Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel today sentenced Keno Romario Brown, age 26, of Hyattsville, Maryland, to eight years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for 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. Judge Hazel ordered Brown to pay restitution in the amount of $775,225.48. After trial, a federal jury convicted Brown on March 12, 2020.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Acting Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner stated, “Keno Brown perpetrated a heartless scheme targeting more than 100 elderly victims. He will now serve eight years in federal prison. The Department of Justice is committed to bringing fraudsters who prey upon the elderly to justice. I encourage anyone who believes they may be a victim of a fraud or scam to contact the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).”
“Brown callously preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Timothy Thibault, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “This sentence demonstrates that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue and hold accountable those who commit the unconscionable crime of elder fraud.”
“This investigation is another example of how the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with its law enforcement partners, holds scammers who prey upon our most vulnerable citizens accountable.” Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina continued, “We also encourage anyone who believes that they are a potential victim and/or has receive similar suspicious callings to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
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, among other methods.
The evidence proved that during the course of the conspiracy, Brown and other members of the conspiracy successfully defrauded over 100 elderly victims.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana J. Brusca, who prosecuted the case.
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