New York Man Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million Dollar Fraudulent Prize Notice Scheme
Five Defendants Now Have Pleaded Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy
A fifth defendant pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of New York to participating in a fraudulent, multi-million dollar mass-mailing scheme that tricked consumers into paying fees for falsely promised cash prizes.
According to court documents, from November 2013 through November 2018, Carmine Maietta, 75, of Westbury, New York, engaged in a direct-mail scheme that sent fraudulent prize notification mailings to thousands of consumers. The mailings induced consumers to pay a fee, purportedly in return for a large cash prize. None of the consumers who sent a fee ever received such a prize. Maietta pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
“Mass mailing fraud schemes often trick elderly victims into sending money based on false promises of large cash prizes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to pursuing and prosecuting the perpetrators of these schemes.”
“With today’s guilty plea, Maietta admits to deceiving elderly and other vulnerable victims into believing they had won cash prizes when, in reality, he was simply pocketing their hard-earned funds,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “This office is committed to protecting the vulnerable from the financial harm caused by fraudulent mail solicitation schemes.”
“Sweepstakes and other frauds are extremely damaging to those who fall victim to a scammers’ pitch of trickery and lies,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel B. Brubaker of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “These fraudulent schemes by design are nothing more than lies written on paper. Postal Inspectors will always vigorously pursue individuals who prey on the public, bringing them to justice for their criminal activity.”
Four other defendants previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for participating in the scheme. Charles Kafeiti, 58, of Scottsdale, Arizona, pleaded guilty on Dec. 23, 2020. Steven Diaz, 53, of Mount Sinai, New York, pleaded guilty on Feb. 8, 2021. Anthony Kafeiti, 61, of Port Jefferson, New York, pleaded guilty on July 28, 2021. Drew Wilson, 63, of British Columbia, Canada, pleaded guilty on Aug. 24, 2021. The defendants were part of a multi-million dollar mail fraud scheme in which they worked together to coordinate the mailings, open and process victims’ responses to the fraudulent solicitations, manage lists of recipients and respondents, and process victim payments.
Maietta will be sentenced at a later date. Each of the five defendants faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Timothy Finley and Daniel Zytnick of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case.
The department’s extensive and broad-based efforts to combat elder fraud seeks to halt the widespread losses seniors suffer from fraud schemes. The best method for prevention, however, is by sharing information about the various types of elder fraud schemes with relatives, friends, neighbors and other seniors who can use that information to protect themselves.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud, and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish and other languages are available.
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.