Long Island Man Pleads Guilty to Multi-Million Dollar Elder Fraud Scheme
Shaun Sullivan is the Second Defendant to Plead Guilty in Sweepstakes Fraud Scheme
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Shaun Sullivan pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert to conspiracy to commit mail fraud by sending fraudulent prize-promotion mailings that led recipients, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, to believe that they could claim large cash prizes in exchange for a modest fee. None of the victims who submitted fees, which in total exceeded $30 million, received a substantial cash prize.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), announced the guilty plea.
“Sullivan preyed on consumers, many of them vulnerable and elderly, by sending fraudulent mailings designed to trick them into believing they had won a cash prize; he then lined his own pockets with the fees he extracted from the victims,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Protecting the community from mass mailing fraud schemes remains a priority of this Office and the Department of Justice.”
“The Department of Justice will bring to justice those who exploit elderly consumers in violation of federal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Hunt. “We are actively working with our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to stop and punish schemes that harm consumers.”
“Today’s plea is an example of the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to protect the vulnerable and older Americans, who were specifically targeted to receive bogus solicitations to lure the unsuspecting ‘prize winner’ to send money that was subsequently used for Mr. Sullivan and his co-conspirators own enrichment,” said USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Bartlett.
Between December 2010 and July 2016, Sullivan and others sent fraudulent prize-promotion mailings to thousands of victims throughout the United States. The mailings appeared to be personally addressed to thousands of individuals whose names were on consumer lists obtained by Sullivan and his coconspirators. Sullivan and co-defendant Tully Lovisa rented and maintained private mailboxes in the Eastern District of New York to receive return mailings sent by the victims. They created various shell companies for the purported senders of the mailings, and hid their involvement in the business by using straw owners and aliases. Lovisa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in October 2018, and is awaiting sentencing.
When sentenced, Sullivan faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as $550,000 in forfeiture, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offense. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles P. Kelly and Trial Attorneys Daniel Zytnick and Timothy Finley of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch. Assistant United States Attorney Tanisha R. Payne is in charge of the forfeiture.
Merrick, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-349 (JS)