PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Two Jamaican nationals admitted to a federal court judge in Providence that they participated in lottery scams that defrauded U.S citizens in several states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unsuspecting victims were contacted by scammers, told they had won large sums of money in a lottery, but were required to pay “fees” to collect their winnings.
According to court documents, beginning in at least May 2018, Jason Wedderburn 42, and Kayan Kitson, 38, participated in a conspiracy in which conspirators made unsolicited contact with people in several states, often times senior citizens, informing them that they had won hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some instances over a million dollars, in a lottery. For them to collect their winnings, victims were told they first would have to pay “up-front fees” such as taxes or processing costs. The victims were instructed to either mail to Wedderburn, Kitson, or others, checks or money orders made out to the defendants to cover the cost of the fees, or were provided instructions for depositing the funds into bank accounts controlled by the defendants and others. Payments ranged from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some victims were contacted multiple times and told they needed to make additional payments. Once deposited, the funds were either quickly withdrawn, transferred to other bank accounts, or withdrawn from ATMs in Jamaica.
No lottery winnings were ever paid to any of the individuals contacted by the scammers. According to court documents, one Massachusetts victim was defrauded of more than $325,000. In total, over $600,000 was stolen primarily from elderly victims as part of the scam.
Appearing before U.S District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy, Jason Wedderburn and Kayan Kitson, detained since their arrest in Florida in August 2020, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, announced Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus.
Wedderburn, who pled guilty on Tuesday, and Kitson who pled guilty today are scheduled to be sentenced on October 6, 2021.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sandra R. Hebert, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine D. Lowell.
The matter was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Acting United States Attorney Myrus thanks the FBI for its assistance.