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Press Release

Jamaican National Charged for Role in Sweepstakes Scheme that Targeted Older Americans

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan announced that a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment charging Javon Jonathan Spencer, 30, a Jamaican national, whose last known address was in Euclid, Ohio, for his role in a conspiracy that allegedly stole more than $250,000 from victims and targeted older Americans in Northern Ohio and elsewhere.

According to the indictment, from March of 2018 through April of 2019, a co-conspirator would contact victims and falsely claim that the victim had won a prize through the lottery, sweepstakes or other contest.  The co-conspirator would then inform the victim that an upfront fee or tax was required to collect the full amount.  The indictment alleges that the victims were then directed to mail cash, checks or money orders payable to the defendant at his address in Euclid. 

In one instance, the indictment alleges that in June of 2018, a co-conspirator called a victim and claimed that the victim had won money in a sweepstakes and, to collect the full amount, had to pay $4,500 to the defendant as a fee.  The victim then mailed the fee to the defendant as directed, and the defendant deposited the funds into his bank account.

As a result of the scheme, it is alleged that the conspiracy members caused a total combined loss of more than $250,000 from victims.   

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation.

In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

This investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. McDonough.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).  This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps.  Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis.  Reporting is the first step.  Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses.  The hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.

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Updated January 20, 2022

Topic
Elder Justice