Second Defendant Pleads Guilty in Multimillion Dollar Prize Promotion Scam Affecting Elderly Victims
A second defendant charged with operating a multimillion mass-mailing fraud scheme pleaded guilty on Tuesday, May 14, in federal court on Long Island, the Department of Justice announced.
Shaun Sullivan, 37, of Merrick, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for sending prize-promotion mailings that led recipients, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, to believe that they could claim a large cash prize in exchange for a modest fee. This was false; victims who submitted fees, which in total exceeded $30 million, did not receive large sums of money.
Sullivan worked with others, including Tully Lovisa of Huntington Station, New York, who operated the prize-promotion mailing scheme in violation of court orders that resulted from a lawsuit against him by the Federal Trade Commission. Lovisa pleaded guilty in October 2018.
“The Department of Justice will bring to justice those who exploit elderly consumers in violation of federal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We are actively working with our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to stop and punish schemes that harm consumers."
“Sullivan preyed on consumers, many of them vulnerable and elderly, by sending fraudulent mailings designed to trick them into believing they had won a cash prize; he then lined his own pockets with the fees he extracted from the victims,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Protecting the community from mass mailing fraud schemes remains a priority of this Office and the Department of Justice.”
“Today’s plea is an example of the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to protect the vulnerable and older Americans, who were specifically targeted to receive bogus solicitations to lure the unsuspecting ‘prize winner’ to send money that was subsequently used for Mr. Sullivan and his co-conspirators own enrichment;” said Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Tuesday’s plea took place before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert. When sentenced, Sullivan faces up to 20 years in prison, forfeiture, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offense.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Daniel Zytnick and Timothy Finley of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly of the Eastern District of New York. Assistant United States Attorney Tanisha R. Payne is in charge of issues related to forfeiture.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. In particular, this past February the Department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 200 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep. The Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny.