South Florida Resident Sentenced in Connection With Lottery Fraud Scheme Based in Jamaica
A Broward County, Florida woman was sentenced in Miami, Florida for her role in connection with the operation of a Jamaican-based fraudulent lottery scheme, the Department of Justice announced today.
Cassandra Althea Palmer, 33, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke to serve 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. The court scheduled a hearing on May 3, 2017 to determine the amount of restitution that Palmer will pay to the victim.
Palmer pleaded guilty on Dec. 7, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. As part of her guilty plea, Palmer acknowledged that from February through April 2014, she was a member of a conspiracy that defrauded a Maryland resident.
“Lottery scammers tied to Jamaica continue to prey on victims in the United States, promising large winnings in a lottery to trick victims into sending money to a member of the scheme, with no return to the victim,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting those who participate in international lottery schemes, which frequently target elderly or vulnerable Americans.”
Palmer was charged with the conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud on Oct. 26, 2016. As part of her guilty plea, Palmer agreed that, had the case gone to trial, the United States would have proved the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt: In February 2014, a woman from Worcester County, Maryland, was contacted by an individual in Jamaica and told that she had won a multi-million dollar lottery prize, and that in order to collect her lottery prize, she first had to pay taxes and fees. The victim did not win a lottery prize and would not collect any winnings. Palmer knew about the fraud scheme and agreed with her co-conspirator in Jamaica to participate in the scheme. Palmer participated in the fraudulent scheme in a number of ways. Among other things, she worked with her co-conspirator in Jamaica, to recruit a friend in Maryland to receive $7,500 of the victim’s money. She and her friend kept a portion of the money, and Palmer wire transferred the rest to her Jamaican co-conspirator.
The fraudulent scheme ended when law enforcement officials learned of the fraud. Officials set up a sting, in which an undercover police officer posed as the victim and met Palmer’s friend at a fast food restaurant parking lot in Maryland. The purpose of the meeting was for the victim to hand over $32,500 in cash to Palmer’s friend in order for the victim to claim her purported lottery winnings. Law enforcement arrested Palmer’s friend on the spot, after she received $32,500 in cash from the officer.
“The Postal Inspection Service seeks to end fraud on American citizens, many of whom are vulnerable or older, by those engaged in international lottery schemes,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel B. Brubaker of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Division. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates there are no safe havens for those who participate in these types of fraud schemes.”
This prosecution is part of the Department of Justice’s effort to work with federal and local law enforcement to combat fraudulent lottery schemes in Jamaica that prey on U.S. citizens.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Readler commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Maryland State Police. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney David A. Frank of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl.