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Justice News

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Rochester Man Sentenced To Prison In Jamaican Lottery Scam Case

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

ROCHESTER, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Roydel Nicholson, 64, of Rochester, NY, was convicted following a jury trial of mail fraud and international money laundering for his role as a money-mule in the Jamaican lottery scam, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer to 87 months in prison. The defendant will also be required to pay restitution in the amount of $145,794.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who prosecuted the case, stated that between December 2012 and January 2014, Nicholson acted as a money-mule in the Jamaican lottery scam, which targeted the elderly and vulnerable. In this role, the defendant received packages of cash and bank checks via the U.S. mail totaling more than $145,000. The cash and checks came from a 95-year-old victim in California. Nicholson then forwarded some of the money to other members of the scam in Jamaica and elsewhere, and kept the remainder for himself.

The Jamaican Lottery Scam is a widespread fraud that targets the vulnerable elderly in this country. Typically, telemarketers based in Jamaica call victims while disguising their true telephone numbers using various techniques, tell the victims that they have won a multimillion dollar lottery prize, and tell them that in order to receive their winnings they need to send money to pay for taxes, fees, or other purported expenses. The victim is commonly directed to send the money to a U.S.-based person, the money-mule, who collects the money, takes a cut of the proceeds, and forwards the rest to the organizers of the fraud.  According to estimates published by news outlets, American victims have been sending approximately $300 million a year to Jamaica as a result of this fraud.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by Inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service, acting under the direction of Shelly Binkowski, Inspector-In- Charge, Boston Division, and Special Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, acting under the direction of James Spero, Special Agent-In-Charge, Buffalo Division.

Updated January 17, 2017