Los Angeles Man Arrested on Federal Fraud and Identity Theft Charges Related to Lottery Scam that Targeted Elderly Victims
LOS ANGELES - A South Los Angeles man was arrested today on federal fraud charges for participating in a lottery scam that allegedly targeted elderly victims with promises of cash prizes and cars – as long as they paid taxes and fees.
Carl Dean Bullock, 65, was arrested at his residence this morning without incident by inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service. Bullock is expected to be arraigned on a 20-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court.
A federal grand jury on June 3 returned an indictment that charges Bullock with 13 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Bullock allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud mostly elderly victims in the United States. Using false promises that the victims had won large lottery or sweepstakes prizes, members of the scheme fraudulently told victims that, in order to obtain their “winnings,” they would need to send money to pay for taxes, fees and other expenses. Hoping to collect the winnings, victims sent money to members of the scheme via wire transfer, money orders and cash. The money was sent through the United States mail, as well as through the Western Union and MoneyGram systems.
Bullock allegedly received some of the fraudulently obtained money, and then sent a portion of it to his co-schemers, most of whom were in Jamaica.
The investigation, so far, has uncovered 25 victims – one of whom was 88 years old – who sent nearly $200,000 to obtain their non-existent prizes.
“Fraud schemes like the one charged in this indictment, which promise large rewards in exchange for ‘fees’ and ‘taxes,’ harm vulnerable members of our communities and potentially jeopardize the victims’ ability to make ends meet in retirement,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious because he assisted criminals outside of the United States target elderly victims here.”
“Foreign lottery and sweepstakes fraud cost Americans millions every year,” stated Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. “When one family member is harmed, the impact can be felt by all. Losses can be monumental, and entire fortunes, inheritances and retirement security can be wiped-out. This arrest demonstrates the commitment of Postal Inspectors to protect our seniors from these unscrupulous scam artists.”
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The wire fraud and mail fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.
The investigation in this case is being conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which received substantial assistance from the Glendale Police Department.