BUFFALO, New York (CMC) — The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says four men have been arrested in Brooklyn, New York, and charged with participating in a fraudulent lottery scheme being operated from Jamaica.
On Wednesday, ICE said the arrests are a result of an investigation by its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the US Postal Inspection Service.
According to US Attorney William J Hochul, Jr, the scheme targeted elderly citizens throughout the United States, including two seniors living in western New York.
Those arrested are Corey Buddle, Orlando Buddle and Otis Ricketts, all of Brooklyn, as well as Horace Buddle, of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Hochul said the defendants are charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
He said the charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and fines up to US$500,000.
"Criminals who target elderly citizens in these schemes are heartless in their relentless pursuit of their victims' bank accounts," said James C. Spero, special agent in charge of HSI Buffalo, which handled the investigation leading to the arrests.
"While it's great news that these men are now in custody, I strongly encourage anyone with elderly loved ones to familiarise themselves with these schemes and take steps to protect them from exploitation," he added.
The criminal complaint alleges the defendants conspired with others to defraud senior citizens by luring them into believing they had won millions of dollars in the lottery, as well as a Mercedes-Benz in many cases, in exchange for fees paid up front.
Hochul said the scheme typically utilised contact by mail, telephone or fax, and also involved high-pressure tactics and threats to coerce the victims to send money.
The victims include an 83-year-old man from Buffalo and a 71-year-old man from Rochester, New York.
He said some of the funds acquired from victims in the United States were transported to Jamaica, or otherwise transferred out of the country by wire transactions or ATM withdrawals at locations in Jamaica.