Two Florida residents arrested in alleged foreign lottery scam

BBB has been warning consumers about the dangers of lottery scams. You didn’t and can’t win an international lottery, no matter what the letter in the mail says. You’ll just end up sending hard-earned money to scammers for non-existent taxes or fees. You could also get I hate seeing people fall for these, especially the elderly.

This week, the Justice Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Marshals Service announced the arrest of two Florida residents who were allegedly involved in an international lottery scam. The arrests are part of a federal crackdown on fraudulent international lottery schemes.

After being indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami on Oct. 31, Althea Angela Peart and Charmaine Anne King were arrested on charges that they and their co-conspirators, some of whom were outside of the U.S., took part in a fraudulent lottery scheme.

Elderly victims in the U.S. were allegedly convinced to send thousands of dollars to Peart and King to cover fees for lottery winnings that didn’t exist. Letters were sent to victims, informing them that they had won more than a million dollars in a lottery.

The letters contained fraudulent cashier’s checks made out to the victims for thousands of dollars. They were told by “claims agents” to deposit the money and wire money to Peart and King to cover fees.

Because the checks were fake, the victims had to reimburse their banks for the funds they sent to the scammers. Peart and King allegedly kept a percentage and forwarded part of the money to co-conspirators outside the U.S.  The victims paid everything out of their own pockets and there were no lottery winnings.

Peart’s charges include conspiracy, eight counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and with committing these offenses through telemarketing. King is charged with conspiracy, four counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and with committing these offenses through telemarketing.

If you think you might have won a sweepstakes BBB offers the following advice:

  • Don’t expect to win a contest you never entered. You can only win a sweepstakes you enter. If you have entered a sweepstakes, keep track of who you’re entering with.
  • Don’t get tricked by “official-looking” material. Seals, official-sounding names and terms that imply affiliation with or endorsement by a government entity are commonly used by scammers to fool consumers into thinking they are legitimate.
  • A true sweepstakes will not make its winner pay fees. If you are asked to mail or wire money to pay fees or taxes, you’re looking at a scam. Legitimate prizes do not come with processing fees and taxes are paid directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after winnings are collected.
  • Never agree to deposit a check and send a portion to someone else. This is a well-known scam. No matter how legitimate the check may appear to be, no matter what story or reasonable-sounding explanation you are given, you will get burned. A bank teller might accept the check, but when it turns out to be fake, you will have to reimburse the bank.

– Posted on November 6, 2013 by

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Two Florida residents arrested in alleged foreign lottery scam

  1. Reblogged this on Snake River BBB Latino and commented:

    Esto blog es muy importante:

    BB ha estado advirtiendo a los consumidores sobre los peligros de las estafas de lotería. No y no se puede ganar una lotería internacional, no importa lo que diga la carta en el correo. Sólo terminará enviando dinero duramente ganado a los estafadores para inexistente impuestos o tarifas. También podrías odio ver gente a caer en ellos, especialmente los ancianos.

    Esta semana, el Departamento de justicia, servicio de inspección Postal de Estados Unidos, U.S. Immigration and de Customs Enforcement patria seguridad investigaciones (HSI) y el servicio de alguaciles de Estados Unidos anunciaron el arresto de dos residentes de Florida que estaban presuntamente implicados en una estafa de lotería internacional. Las detenciones forman parte de una ofensiva federal contra los esquemas fraudulentos lotería internacional.

  2. Mark Burrows

    I am not sure of the implication here of the, I hate to see people fall for these especially the elderly. Clarity should be implied that the statement is used in the emails or posts as part of the scam as to draw sympathy with one hand while the other hand deals another devious opportunity.
    It certainly is not a reflection on the sincere people who respond to this blog and use such a statement as a feeling of genuine sympathy and the fact that they are aware and are willing to help others to be more cautious.
    This is a great story. When criminals get caught, and punished for their crimes, it means that someone clued in and stepped up to the plate and reached out to have it investigated.
    This is also the reason that BBB is relentless in providing this information so that it will become almost second nature for you to act. Don’t of course try to be a hero, leave that to the professionals and trained head hunters but what is important is learn to protect yourself by learning some basic rules and following the sound advice that is offered by the BBB.

    Mark Burrows

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