A St James man who was extradited to the United States last year, has confessed to participating in a phoney sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly Americans, in a bid to enrich himself.
Damone D Oakley, 41, of Point district, St James pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
A date for his sentencing was not provided in a release that was issued on Wednesday by the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
As part of his plea agreement, Oakley admitted that he sought to unlawfully enrich himself through a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable persons.
The victims, said the release, received mailings, text messages or phone calls in which they were falsely told that they had won millions of dollars and luxury vehicles in a sweepstakes.
However, they were told that they would first need to pay taxes and fees to claim their winnings.
Oakley used a variety of names during the scheme, including ‘Officer Alex Logan’ and ‘Officer Stan Valentine’, and instructed his victims on how to send their money, which is estimated at “hundreds of thousands of dollars”, the US Attorney’s Office reported.
Victims were allegedly directed to send money directly to Oakley, as well as to individuals in the United States and elsewhere, who all served as intermediaries and transmitted the monies that were received to the Jamaican.
In addition to sending cash or wire transfers, the statement said victims were directed to purchase electronics, jewellery and clothing, and to then have the purchased items shipped to mail-forwarding services in Florida.
The Americans never received any of their promised “winnings”.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M Boynton, who is also head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said the authorities remain committed to pursuing criminals who defraud elderly and vulnerable US citizens.
“Oakley was the first individual whose extradition was requested by the United States under Jamaica’s revised Extradition Act, and we are confident that we will continue our efforts to root out fraud that targets vulnerable consumers, wherever the fraudsters are located,” said Boynton in the statement.
US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Gerard M Karam, said Oakley targeted the most vulnerable people in the American society.
“Today’s (Wednesday’s) guilty plea reflects our office’s commitment to protecting elderly victims and punishing individuals who engage in this type of behaviour,” Karam further stated.