New York Man Sentenced in Fraudulent Prize Notice Mail Fraud Scheme
A Queens man was sentenced for participating in a scheme to mail fraudulent prize notices that tricked consumers into paying fees for falsely promised cash prizes.
Scott Gammon, 48, of Broad Channel, New York, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack, who also ordered Gammon to forfeit $139,611.97.
According to court documents, from August 2014 through August 2019, Gammon 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.
“Participants in fraud schemes face the prospect of federal prison,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting elderly and vulnerable Americans and to prosecuting individuals who engage in such schemes.”
“Financially exploiting the elderly and other victims through fraudulent prize schemes is a form of abuse and deserving of punishment as today’s sentence demonstrates,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “A term in prison should deter others from preying on the vulnerable.”
“Today’s sentencing brings to a close the investigation of Mr. Gammon, who devised a fake prize promotion scheme designed to defraud older Americans and steal from those who believed they had won a prize,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel B. Brubaker of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) New York Division. “Unfortunately, for those who participated, they realized too late that they had been swindled. When a prize did not materialize, and their money was not returned, they became victims. Postal Inspectors remind consumers to be ever vigilant and play an active role in protecting their money. If you’re asked to pay for a prize you didn’t enter to win, it’s a scam.”
Two other defendants also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for participating in the scheme. Christopher King, 37, of Oceanside, New York, and Natasha Khan, 39, of Elmont, New York, are scheduled to be sentenced at a later date.
The USPIS investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Daniel Zytnick and Timothy Finley of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly for the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanisha Payne for the Eastern District of New York's Asset Recovery Section is handling forfeiture matters.
The department’s extensive and broad-based efforts to combat elder fraud seek 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.