Sweepstakes Scheme Targets Elderly Missouri Resident
St. Louis, MO – Fernando Reyes, 37, a resident of Florida, was indicted today on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud.
The indictment alleges that beginning in April 2016, Reyes and other individuals telephoned a Missouri resident over the age of 80 to advise the resident 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 the defendant in Florida. During the telephone calls, the caller identified Reyes as a federal attorney. However, Reyes is not affiliated with the United States Department of Justice or any other federal agency or department.
Four checks totalling more than $53,000 were deposited into defendant’s 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.
If Reyes is convicted, each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case is being 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.
This indictment coincides with the United States Department of Justice coordination of a nationwide elder fraud sweep. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and law enforcement partners are coordinating the largest sweep of elder fraud cases in history. The cases involve more than two hundred and fifty defendants from around the globe who victimized more than a million Americans. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars. The Department coordinated its announcement with the FTC and state Attorneys General, who independently filed numerous cases targeting elder frauds within the sweep period.
Elder Fraud Complaints
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.