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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Elmira Woman Charged With Mail Fraud

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Rhonda Britt, 63, of Elmira, NY, was charged by criminal complaint with mail fraud. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany H. Lee, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the investigation began in 2015 when elderly victims in California and Hawaii received phone calls from unidentified individuals indicating they won a substantial sum of cash. The victims were advised that in order to collect their prizes that they needed to pay “fees” of many thousands of dollars, and to send the “fees” to Rhonda Britt, in Elmira, NY. The victims sent the “fees” to the defendant through the mail as directed but the promised cash awards were never delivered.

In September 2015, Britt was interview by inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and agreed that she would cease sending or receiving money from the scheme. In November 2015, the defendant executed an agreement with the Postal Service to that effect.

In June 2016, inspectors were advised that a Priority Mail envelope had arrived for delivery to Britt. On June 8, 2016, the defendant went to the Elmira Southside Post Office and  inquired  about  the  package.  Britt  later  spoke  with  an  inspector  acting  in  an undercover capacity. The defendant advised that she was expecting a check for business purposes and that the check was not for a lottery. The actual sender was an 89-year-old man who had been advised that he won $2,500,000 but in order to receive his prize, he would have to send Rhonda Britt a processing fee.

The investigation is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the United States  Postal  Service  Inspection  Service,  under  the  direction  of  Inspector-in-Charge Shelly Binkowski.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated July 19, 2016