Texas Woman Pled Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud as Part of Lottery Scam
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that DEBRA KROM, age 36, a resident of Wylie, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
According to the Bill of Information filed on February 8, 2018, 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 Alex Saunders, charged in case 18-168 “E”, 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, Saunders 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, Saunders or others. Immediately after receiving the funds in the mail from the victims, KROM, Saunders, and others transferred the ill-gotten proceeds from their accounts to Bowyer’s account in Jamaica.
KROM is scheduled to be sentenced on February 6, 2019 before United States District Court Judge Sarah S. Vance. She 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 Strasser commended special agents of the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharan E. Lieberman.