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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 5, 2018

40-Count Indictment Charges RI Man in International Telemarketing Scheme

PROVIDENCE, RI – A federal grand jury in Providence, RI, today returned a forty-count indictment charging a Pawtucket, RI, man who is among more than 250 defendants from around the globe named in criminal, civil and forfeiture fraud cases brought by federal and state law enforcement against individuals and organizations that allegedly victimized more than a million Americans, most of whom are elderly.

 In February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history. In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors. In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused losses of more than half a billion dollars. 

Among those charged at the time by way of a federal criminal complaint was Shawn Whitfield, 47, of Pawtucket. Today, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Whitfield with one count of conspiracy, ten counts of mail fraud, and twenty-nine counts of wire fraud.

Whitfield’s indictment is announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch and Raymond D. Moss, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Boston Division.

It is alleged that Whitfield participated in a telemarketing lottery scam originating out of Jamaica that targeted United States residents, many of them seniors. The victims were led to believe that they had won a lottery. However, they were told that the cash or prizes they purportedly won would not be released without upfront payment of taxes or fees. 

It is alleged that between July 2015 and January 2018, Whitfield collected an estimated $101,541   in payments from at least 47 individuals from 23 states who fell victim to the lottery telemarketing scam. It is alleged that the majority of funds collected by Whitfield were transferred electronically to co-conspirators or others at their direction.

It is alleged that in order to facilitate the scheme, individuals were contacted via telephone and told of their purported winnings. They were instructed to send upfront payments for taxes and fees to Shawn Whitfield at his Pawtucket, R.I., residence. An investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office determined that Whitfield collected an estimated $101,541 most of which was later transferred electronically by Whitfield to co-conspirators or others at their direction.

USPIS agents, assisted by members of the Pawtucket Police Department, Rhode Island State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service, executed a court-authorized search of Whitfield’s residence on February 20, 2018. Simultaneously, Whitfield was arrested at his place of employment in Norwood, Mass., by USPIS agents, with the assistance of members of the Norwood Police Department.

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

Whitfield is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise M. Barton, Elder Justice Coordinator for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.

If you are a victim or know a victim of elder fraud, you can call 1-877-FTC-HELP or go to ftc.gov/complaint. For downloadable Elder Abuse Prevention resources and for information about community outreach programs in Rhode Island, visit the United States Attorney’s Office’s Elder Justice Initiative web page at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ri/elder-justice

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Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
Press Release Number: 
18-35
Updated April 5, 2018