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Press Release

Jamaican Man Sentenced To 51 Months’ Imprisonment On “Sweepstakes Fraud” Charges Targeting Senior Citizens

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG –The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Tackya Whyte, age 41, a Jamaican citizen who formerly resided in Richmond, Virginia, was sentenced today to 51 months’ imprisonment and to serve two years’ supervised release by United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, for his role in an international “sweepstakes scam” that defrauded seven American victims out of $459,881.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Whyte pled guilty on August 28, 2017, to one count of mail fraud pursuant to a plea agreement with the government.  Whyte and unidentified fraudsters perpetrated a scheme that defrauded at least seven U.S. senior citizens, including at least one victim who resided in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  The victims were falsely told they had won multi-million dollar international sweepstakes prizes.  The purported winners were directed to send Western Union and MoneyGram money transfers payable to Whyte, and others, to pre-pay taxes and other fictitious expenses in order to collect the non-existent cash prizes.  Whyte then re-transferred a portion of the fraud proceeds to conspirators in Jamaica, thereby serving as a “money mule” for the fraudsters.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Jones noted Whyte and his co-conspirators deliberately preyed upon the elderly and that most of the victims had suffered substantial financial hardship as a result of the scam.  Five of the victims were in their 80’s, one was 74, and the youngest was 68. Many lost their life savings and retirement accounts. One victim lost $171,379, another lost her home to foreclosure, and a third had her electricity turned off during the winter months.

Judge Jones also ordered Whyte to pay $459,881 in restitution to the victims.

The case was investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel prosecuted the case. 

The United States Attorney and United States Postal Inspectors remind all citizens that they should never make an advance payment of any kind on the promise of a sweepstakes prize, loan, job or grant.


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Updated May 29, 2018

Elder Justice