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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 17, 2019

Three Men Plead Guilty To Operating A Sweepstakes Scam Impacting Elderly Victims

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Three Bay County residents pleaded guilty on June 14, to federal fraud charges stemming from activities meant to induce elderly victims with false promises of sweepstakes prizes. The men each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud. Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the guilty pleas of Delroy Williams, 52, of Lynn Haven, Vivian Walters, 33, of Lynn Haven, and Jevaughn Williams, 22, of Panama City Beach.

A sentencing hearing for the three men is currently set for August 27, 2019, at 11:00 a.m.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Harwin and Michelle Daffin are prosecuting the case following a joint investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Lynn Haven Police Department.

“It is appalling that some individuals consider it acceptable to prey on vulnerable elders, defrauding them of their hard-earned savings,” U.S. Attorney Keefe said. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will never tolerate such shocking and shameful behavior, and working closely with our federal, state, and local partners we will prosecute such criminals to the full extent of the law.”

Since the late 1990s, telemarketers in Jamaica have been engaging in a scam by contacting victims in the United States and falsely claiming the victims have won large sweepstakes prizes. Victims, who are primarily elderly, are induced to send cash or cash equivalents in order to release their purported prizes. The victims’ funds are often transported by wire transfers and United States Postal Service packages.

Between 2014 and 2017, the defendants conspired together to receive wire transfers and mailed packages from victims, took a percentage of the funds for themselves, and then forwarded the remainder to co-conspirators in Jamaica. Over 40 victims have been identified through wire transfer records and searches of the defendants’ electronic devices.

“In this investigation, U.S. Postal Inspectors labored arduously to bring these individuals to justice. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service works aggressively to investigate fraud schemes that involve the mail and victimizing our most vulnerable citizens” said Miami Division Inspector in Charge Antonio “Tony” Gomez.

Delroy Williams and Vivian Walters pleaded guilty to a fraudulent wire transfer of $1,800 from an 82-year-old victim and inducing an 85-year-old victim to send a U.S. Express Mail package containing $500 cash.

Jevaughn Williams pleaded guilty to a $1,500 fraudulent wire transfer from an 84-year-old victim. Williams also pleaded guilty to inducing a 78-year-old victim to mail $1,400 in postal money orders that were subsequently deposited into his personal bank account.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Contact: 
U.S. Attorney's Office Northern District of Florida 850-216-3845
Updated June 18, 2019