By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, Harrisonburg, VA, Mon. Nov. 10, 2014: A 31-year-old Jamaican national living in Frederick County, Virginia is set to be arraigned this morning in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg for operating a fraudulent lottery scheme.
Carlos O’Brian Ricketts’ arraignment and detention hearing today comes days after a grand jury returned a 27-count federal indictment charging him with mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
If convicted, Ricketts faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count.
According to the indictment, Ricketts and a co-conspirator tricked victims into sending thousands of dollars to cover fees for bogus lottery winnings.
The Department of Justice says the indictment is part of the government’s crackdown on fraudulent lottery schemes based in Jamaica that target elderly people.
From May 2010, Ricketts’ co-conspirator is alleged to have contacted elderly victims in the United States, claimed to represent a known U.S. sweepstakes company and falsely informed the victims that they had won thousands or millions of dollars in a lottery. The co-conspirator allegedly told the victims to make payments of several thousand dollars in order to collect their purported prize winnings and instructed the victims to send and wire this money to Ricketts in Virginia.
The indictment charges that Ricketts received this money, kept a portion of the money for himself and sent the remainder to individuals in Jamaica. According to the indictment, Ricketts sometimes sent the victims’ money to Jamaica in smaller, separate payments to the same person in Jamaica during a short period of time. The indictment also alleges that Ricketts sometimes used the alias Kevin Brown when receiving money from victims and sending money to Jamaica. The indictment further alleges that Ricketts used different addresses to conceal his identity. The victims never received any lottery winnings.
“Co-conspirators in the United States are often key players in lottery schemes operating from foreign countries,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who facilitate these pernicious schemes.”
“Participants in international lottery frauds cannot seek shelter in the Western District of Virginia,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy for the Western District of Virginia. “We will bring those responsible to justice.”
“HSI has disrupted multiple lottery scams across the globe,” said Special Agent in Charge Clark E. Settles of HSI Washington, D.C., which oversees the agency’s Harrisonburg office. “The indictment of this individual marks yet another step against alleged con-artists who prey on elderly U.S. citizens.”