Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Sweepstakes Scheme Targeting Elderly Missouri Resident
St. Louis, MO – Fernando Reyes, 38, a resident of Florida, pled guilty today to federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud. He appeared in federal court this morning before U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry who accepted his guilty plea and set sentencing for June 7, 2019.
According to court documents, beginning in April 2016, a Missouri resident over the age of 80 began receiving telephone calls from unknown individuals that he had won large sums of money through a sweepstakes. In order to secure his winnings, the Missouri resident was advised to mail various amounts of money to an individual in New Hampshire and Reyes in Florida. The callers identified Reyes was identified as a federal attorney. That representation was false as Reyes was not, and had never been, affiliated with the United States Department of Justice or any other federal agency or department.
Reyes received four checks totaling $53,000, and deposited them into his personal financial accounts. After the deposits, Reyes electronically transmitted a portion of the funds to an individual in Costa Rica, and kept the remaining funds for his personal use.
Reyes also admitted engaging in similar conduct with a resident of the Northern District of Alabama, and received $45,000 from that elderly individual.
Reyes faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of more than $250,000 or both per count. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office as part of the United States Department of Justice on-going effort to combat elder fraud nationwide. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime, which can be reached at www.ovc.gov.