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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 9, 2018

Texas Woman Charged in Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud as Part of Lottery Scam

United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that DEBRA KROM, age 36, a resident of Wylie, Texas was charged yesterday in a one-count Bill of Information for Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud.

According to the Information, on or before August 2013, and continuing through December 2015, KROM and others operated a scheme to contact elderly individuals and people with diminished capacity who would be susceptible to being scammed. The scheme involved contacting victims by telephone through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and informing them they had won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes (PCH) or similar lottery and needed to pay KROM and others monies by cash, check, wire, and other methods in order to claim their lottery winnings.

Unknown members of the conspiracy, but believed to be residing in Jamaica, obtained names, addresses, and other biographical information from an unknown source. These individuals used the information to identify victims, telephone them, or directed others to telephone the victims and tell them that they had won the PCH sweepstakes. They needed to send KROM or other co-conspirators money to claim their winnings.

Co-conspirator, Andre Bowyer, charged in case 16-96 “J” in the Eastern District of Louisiana, directed KROM and others residing in the United States, including A.S., to open bank accounts in the United States for the purpose of receiving money from elderly victims and transferring the proceeds into Bowyer’s account in Jamaica. It was part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that on certain dates between August 2013 and December 2015, the defendant, KROM, A.S. and others, conspired with Bowyer to accomplish the unlawful scheme of fooling elderly victims into believing they had won a sweepstakes, causing the victims to send money via the United States Postal Service or by wire transfer to KROM, A.S. or others. Immediately after receiving the funds in the mail from the victims, KROM, A.S., and others transferred the ill-gotten proceeds from their accounts to Bowyer’s account in Jamaica.

If convicted, KROM faces a maximum of 5 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000 supervised release of up to 3 years, and a special assessment of $100.

U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, and the United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Sharan E. Lieberman.

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Updated February 12, 2018