Jamaican Indicted for Operating Telephone Scams Targeting Senior Citizens in the U.S.
PITTSBURGH, PA – A Jamaican national has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of violating federal wire and mail fraud laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
The seven-count indictment, returned on June 5, charged Kristoff Cain, age 22, of Jamaica, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and five counts of wire fraud.
“Kristoff Cain is charged with conducting a series of ‘Jamaican Lottery’ telephone scams targeting senior citizens in the United States. Cain and others called victims and, through misrepresentations such as telling the victim he or she needed to pay taxes on a lottery jackpot or by claiming to be a police officer, caused these victims to part with their hard-earned savings,” stated U.S. Attorney Brady. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting all Pennsylvanians, especially seniors, from becoming victims of financial exploitation. As this indictment demonstrates, we will even go beyond borders to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of fraud schemes. Thanks to the outstanding collaboration between federal and state law enforcement, including the Pennsylvania Attorney General, our seniors are safer today from these scams.”
“Kristoff Cain is in custody thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration with our federal and state partners,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Because of our cooperation, the international ringleader in a lottery scam that has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from seniors across our Commonwealth and the country has been federally indicted by U.S. Attorney Scott Brady’s office. We’re proud of the partnership and I applaud U.S. Attorney Brady for his outstanding leadership.”
According to the indictment, from in and around September 2013 to in and around April 2018, Cain and other individuals conspired to defraud victims in the United States by making false representations over the telephone. In some instances, members of the conspiracy falsely told victims that they had won large cash prizes in a lottery and needed to send money in order to pay taxes or other assessments on those prizes. In other instances, members of the conspiracy pretended to be law enforcement officers and instructed victims to send cash to specified addresses in connection with purported investigations involving their bank accounts. The indictment states that an unindicted co-conspirator, a Western Pennsylvania resident, received packages containing cash sent by some victims of the scheme, and wired more than $210,000 via MoneyGram and Western Union wire transactions to recipients in Jamaica and other foreign countries between September 2013 and December 2016.
As further described in the indictment, in December 2015, Cain contacted an 82-year-old victim in South Carolina, claiming to be an FBI agent named “Trooper Phillips” investigating purported discrepancies with the victim’s bank account. Cain’s false representations induced the victim to send a package containing $25,000 in cash to the Pittsburgh co-conspirator via UPS in connection with the purported investigation. After receiving the package, the Pittsburgh co-conspirator sent $8,000 in MoneyGram wire transactions to a member of the conspiracy in Jamaica.
“Elder fraud is a serious and growing threat,” said Special Agent in Charge Bob Johnson. "We understand how devastating these schemes can be, not just financially, but emotionally, mentally and even physically. The FBI urges people to check with law enforcement before sending money to anyone they don't know.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to actively investigate fraudulent lottery schemes based in Jamaica directed at ripping off victims in the United States,” said Inspector in Charge Tommy D. Coke of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Pittsburgh Division. “Lottery scams tied to Jamaica are targeting victims in the United States, and we will not allow fraudsters to use the U.S. Mail to commit their crime.”
“Homeland Security Investigations and our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners are committed to investigate and bring to justice individuals perpetrating these lottery schemes,” said Special Agent in Charge Marlon V. Miller. “Fraud schemes, targeting vulnerable individuals within our communities, are simply appalling and will not be tolerated.”
Cain was arrested on a Pennsylvania state complaint in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 21, 2018, after law enforcement learned he was visiting the United States. Cain was subsequently charged by criminal complaint in federal court on May 9, 2018. Cain is expected to make his initial appearance in Federal Court this week.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 140 years in prison, a fine of either $1,750,000 or an alternative amount depending on the victims’ losses, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Adam N. Hallowell is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.