Jamaican gentleman gets 3 years in US penitentiary for lotto scamming

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A Jamaican national – Greg Warren Clarke – was on Friday sentenced to three years in prison in the United States for conspiring to run a Jamaica-based lottery scam that targeted elderly American consumers.

This is according to a statement posted on the US Department of Justice website.

Pointing to court documents, the Department said Clarke, 30, of Montego Bay, St James in Jamaica, conspired to operate a fraudulent lottery scheme.

“From in or around September 2013, through in or around August 2015, Clarke worked with co-conspirators, including Claude Anthony Shaw, in a scheme to defraud, in which victims were called and falsely told that they had won over US$1 million in a lottery and needed to pay fees or taxes to claim their winnings,” the statement said.

It said the victims were instructed to send their money through wire transfers or the mail to Shaw and other individuals. As part of the conspiracy, Clarke and Shaw discussed (over the phone and through cell phone text messages) plans to receive victims’ money.

At Clarke’s direction, Shaw received money from victims through wire transfers and mail. Clarke and Shaw discussed arrangements for victims to send money to other individuals with whom Shaw worked. 

Clarke then instructed Shaw to send the victims’ money to Clarke in Jamaica, usually through wire transfers. Victims who sent money to Clarke and his co-conspirators never received any lottery winnings.

Clarke pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his role in the scam on August 19.

Shaw previously pleaded guilty to mail fraud in the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale. In June 2017, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

“Today’s (Friday’s) sentencing demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to combatting foreign-based lottery fraud schemes targeting American consumers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The perpetrators of these schemes will be prosecuted, regardless of where they live and operate.”

For his part, Juan A. Vargas, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Miami Division warned that “The Postal Inspection Service will continue to actively investigate fraudulent lottery schemes based in Jamaica directed at fleecing victims in the United States”.

“We will not allow the fraudsters responsible for these Jamaican lottery scams to use the U.S. mail to commit their crime,” he added.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Jamaica to secure the arrest and extradition of Clarke.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.

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