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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 13, 2020

Fraudster Convicted After Federal Trial for Scamming More Than 100 Elderly Victims Through Lottery Scheme

Falsely Told Victims They Won a Lottery or Sweepstakes, but Needed to Pay Taxes or Fees in Order to Receive the Prize

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal jury yesterday convicted Keno Romario Brown, age 26, of Hyattsville, Maryland, on federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud, in connection with a scheme to defraud more than 100 elderly victims through an advance fee scheme, specifically, by falsely representing that the victims had won a lottery or sweepstakes and demanding taxes or other fees before the victims could receive the prize. 

The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office; and Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.

U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur stated, “The Department of Justice is committed to bringing fraudsters who prey upon the elderly to justice.  We will continue our outreach efforts to make the public aware of scams and frauds targeting elderly victims and encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim to contact the newly launched Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”

According to the evidence presented at his seven-day trial, in April 2013, Brown and two co-conspirators began contacting victims, falsely telling them that they were representatives of Company 1 or Company 2, which sponsored a lottery or sweepstakes. Brown and his co-conspirators misrepresented to victims that they had won a prize sponsored by Company 1 or Company 2, but in order to collect the prize, the victims had to pay advance fees and taxes to Brown or his co-conspirators.  The conspirators directed the victims to send the advance fees and taxes electronically, or through an interstate mail carrier to “runners” who received the fraudulent proceeds and provided them to Brown and his co-conspirators.  Evidence was presented that Brown used physical abuse to control at least one of the runners.

The trial evidence proved that to launder the fraud proceeds, Brown and a co-conspirator obtained debit cards using the personal information of elderly individuals without their knowledge or consent, and deposited that fraud proceeds onto those debit cards. 

The evidence proved that during the course of the conspiracy, Brown and other members of the conspiracy successfully defrauded over 100 elderly victims.    

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregory Bernstein, Dana J. Brusca, and Lindsay Eyler Kaplan, who are prosecuting the case.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Elder Justice
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated March 13, 2020