Three Defendants Charged Separately In Jamaica Based Lottery Schemes
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ronald J. Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and William D. Snyder, Sheriff, Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), announce the indictments of three individuals for their roles in Jamaica based telemarketing fraud schemes. Shanice Ethridge, 24, of Broward County, was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, with an enhanced penalty for targeting the elderly, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2326. Mikhail Gorbachev George Williams, 25, of Broward County, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and unlicensed money transmitting business, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1960. Fabian Winston Parkinson, 33, of Miami-Dade County, has been charged with mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.
Defendants Ethridge and Williams made their initial appearance this morning before United States Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt in Fort Lauderdale. Defendant Parkinson is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon in Dallas, Texas.
According to the indictments, Ethridge, Williams and Parkinson participated in fraudulent lottery schemes emanating from Jamaica, in which elderly victims throughout the United States were told that they had won a lottery or a sweepstakes but first had to pay taxes, duties or fees on their supposed winnings in order to receive their prize. These elderly victims were induced to send thousands of dollars to cover bogus fees, taxes and insurance for lottery winnings they had not won.
According to the indictments, the co-conspirators and co-schemers sent letters and made multiple telephone calls to the victims claiming to be from a purported sweepstakes/lottery company in the United States. As alleged in the indictment, the victims were told that they had to pay several thousand dollars in order to collect their purported winnings. The co-conspirators and co-schemers allegedly told the victims to make payments to either Ethridge, Williams or Parkinson in order to receive their winnings. Ethridge, Williams and Parkinson received the victims money either by wire transfers, cash, money orders and checks though the U.S. mail and prepaid debit cards.
“We will not allow South Florida to be a pipeline for these money couriers who are the lifeblood of these fraudulent schemes that prey on the elderly and vulnerable,” said United States Attorney Wifredo Ferrer. “We are committed to cutting off the money flow by dismantling these fraudulent lottery cells and prosecuting all of those involved, both here and abroad.”
“Combating scammers who target senior citizens is a priority for the Postal Inspection Service” said U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge in Miami Ronald Verrochio. “Aside from enforcement; we are also actively taking steps to educate elderly Americans about the dangers of lottery frauds.”
“These arrests show that HSI is committed to stopping individuals who prey on our senior citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI Miami Alysa D. Erichs. “We will continue to work with our international partners and other law enforcement agencies to put an end to these criminal organizations.”
“The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be part of the team bringing scam artists such as these to justice,” said Martin County Sheriff William D. Snyder. “These scammers who prey on our seniors in Martin County and elsewhere cannot be allowed to continue. These arrests are a testament to our joint efforts with our law enforcement’s partners at the state, local and federal levels.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of USPIS, ICE-HSI, and the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha R. Mitrani.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.