A 30-year-old woman pleaded guilty for her role in a Jamaica-based lottery fraud scheme, the Department of Justice announced today.
Vania Lee Allen pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Georgia to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and false impersonation of an employee of the United States. Allen faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
“Lottery fraud schemes operating from Jamaica targeting Americans typically get help from at least one co-conspirator in the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Impersonating an FBI agent is just one way fraudsters convince innocent victims that the international lottery is legitimate. It isn’t. The Justice Department will actively pursue and charge those who participate in such criminal activity.”
As part of her guilty plea, Allen acknowledged that she and a co-conspirator in Jamaica sought to unlawfully enrich themselves through a fraudulent lottery scheme targeting an elderly resident of Evans, Georgia.
An indictment charging Allen was filed on March 3. As alleged in the indictment, Allen’s co-conspirator falsely informed the victim that he had won money in a lottery and instructed the victim to make payments to various people in order to collect the purported lottery winnings. As part of her plea agreement, Allen acknowledged in order to induce the victim to continue to make payments as directed by her co-conspirator, Allen traveled from Jamaica to the United States to meet with the victim personally and falsely portrayed herself to the victim as an FBI agent. Allen also acknowledged that when she met the victim, she falsely portrayed herself as a FBI agent, provided the victim with a cell phone, and directed him to speak with the person on the line, who was Allen’s co-conspirator in Jamaica.
“This conviction shows the extraordinary lengths fraudsters will use to rip off someone in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver of the Southern District of Georgia. “Such schemes will not be tolerated, and we will prosecute fraudsters whether they operate from inside or outside of the United States.”
“The Postal Inspection Service is dedicated to investigating and combating international lottery schemes, especially since they prey on elderly Americans,” said Inspector in Charge David W. Bosch of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Division. “The Postal Inspection Service is committed to uncovering and pursuing individuals involved in international lottery fraud schemes targeted at victims in the United States.”
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. According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Clint Narver of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Troy Clark of the Southern District of Georgia. The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Columbia County Georgia Sherriff’s Office.
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 Southern District of Georgia, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/usao-sdga.