Fraudulent Lottery Targeting Seniors Leads to Suspect’s Guilty Plea

Posted on: August 4, 2023, 10:18h. 

Last updated on: August 4, 2023, 10:31h.

A fake lottery that defrauded elderly victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars has led to a guilty plea by one of the principal criminals.

A senior on a phone
A senior on a phone, pictured above. A man recently pleaded guilty to scamming seniors about a fake lottery. (Image: iStock)

Antony Linton Stewart, 39, of St. James Parish, Jamaica, recently pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, North Carolina federal prosecutors announced on Friday.

Stewart called elderly people and then told them they had just won cash and other prizes in a lottery. But to collect their money or prizes, they had to pay fees and taxes.

Victims, eager to collect their winnings, sent money through bank wire transfers and the U.S. Postal Service to those taking part in the scheme, located in the United States and Jamaica.

The middlemen then sent the collected money to Stewart.

As the scheme was discovered and investigated, agents concluded there never was a lottery. No one ever got cash awards or prizes from the fraudulent plot.

Many Such Schemes

The scheme is just one of many such frauds targeting the elderly that the feds have looked into.

“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch is committed to investigating fraudulent schemes targeting elderly Americans, wherever those schemes are based,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Civil Division, said in a statement.

Stewart is the latest example in the department’s ongoing efforts to root out and deter fraud from foreign locations that targets our most vulnerable consumers.”

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Dena J. King added that every year, millions of older Americans lose money to scammers who operate in the United States and elsewhere.

“Today’s guilty plea underscores our efforts to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of elder fraud schemes no matter where they originate,” King said. “We will continue to join forces with our law enforcement counterparts to do all we can to stop these criminals from stealing from our seniors.”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) took part in the investigation and the DOJ’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement in Jamaica to arrest and extradite Stewart.

Reporting Fraud

Someone 60 or older who has been a victim of financial fraud can report the incident to the DOJ’s National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).

Staff at the hotline will listen to details, explain reporting requirements, connect callers to appropriate agencies, and provide other resources.

The hotline is staffed seven days a week between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

Staff on the hotline speak English, Spanish, and other languages.

Warning on Impersonators

In a recent twist, the DOJ announced a new scam in which callers falsely claim to work for the National Elder Fraud Hotline or the DOJ, and threaten to file lawsuits against the person contacted.

Sometimes, the caller asks for personally identifiable information.

The DOJ reminds the elderly and others never to provide Social Security numbers or send money if someone gets one of these calls.