Las Vegas Grand Jury Indicts Trio for Sweepstakes Fraud Targeting Elderly

Posted on: February 3, 2023, 03:41h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2023, 03:12h.

A federal grand jury sitting in Las Vegas this week indicted three suspects — one of whom resides in the city — in connection with a large mail scheme that defrauded thousands of victims, prosecutors said.

A US Postal mail box
A US Postal mailbox, pictured above. Three defendants were indicted for a mail sweepstakes scheme based in Las Vegas. (Image: WRDW)

The victims were drawn in with the promise of hefty prizes, according to a Justice Department statement. But they would only get the money if they paid a small fee. Those who paid the fee never got the promised cash, prosecutors said.

The losses to victims totaled about $15.5 million, prosecutors claimed. Millions of prize notices were mailed between 2012 and 2018.

The indicted defendants include Barbara Trickle, 78, of Las Vegas; Kimberly Stamps, 46, of Gilbert, Ariz.; and John Kyle Muller, 56, of Boulder, Colo.

Each is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as several counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, prosecutors said. If convicted on the charges, each count has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. There is also a maximum fine of $250K or a cap based on the financial gain received.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in Las Vegas federal court on February 15.

Mail, Wire Fraud

The indictment claims Stamps and Muller selected and edited the mailings, as well as collected and processed payments. Trickle produced the mailings, mailed them, and analyzed data on the responses, the feds claimed.

She owned and operated a printing and mailing business. The business was identified in a prior Justice Department document as Western Mailing Services and Cyber Solutions, Inc. It was based in Las Vegas.

The notices told victims they had won a large cash prize. The letters, which appeared to be personalized, asked for fees between $20 and $50, KLAS, a local TV station, reported.

Cease and Desist Order

The government sent out a cease-and-desist order and reached an agreement with the operation in 2012. But the trio continued to operate the mass-mailing scheme, prosecutors said.

Many of the victims were elderly and vulnerable. Federal officials said that protecting seniors from illicit schemes is a priority.

The department is committed to investigating and prosecuting mass-market schemes that harm seniors and other vulnerable persons,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement.

Inspector-in-Charge Eric Shen of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Criminal Investigations Group added, “These individuals took advantage of the euphoria of winning a prize to bilk victims out of their money, when in fact they knew there was no prize waiting, all while violating a previous cease-and-desist order to stop their fraudulent behavior.”