Jamaican Nationals Sentenced to Federal Prison for Their Roles in Lottery Scam Targeting Elderly Victims
FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA — Four Jamaican nationals who resided in Myrtle Beach have been sentenced for their roles in a bogus lottery scam that targeted elderly victims around the country. Specifically, Fabian Gray, a/k/a “Mike Taylor,” 30, and Romaine Gordon, 30, were each sentenced to more than five years in federal prison; Avia Reid, 30, was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison; and Khalelah Powell, 20, was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) began this case with an investigation into individuals in the Myrtle Beach area who were operating a lottery telemarketing scam with domestic and international connections. According to evidence presented to the Court, as part of the scam, the Defendants would contact elderly victims via phone and mail, and falsely inform the victims they had won a sweepstakes. The supposed prizes in these sweepstakes usually consisted of millions of dollars, a new vehicle, or other valuable items. The Defendants told the victims they had to pay taxes and fees in order to receive their winnings.
Victims throughout the case mailed the Defendants prepaid cards, Postal Service money orders, bank money orders, cash, and personal checks to pay the phony taxes and fees. Victims also made deposits into the Defendants’ bank accounts and sent wire transfers to the Defendants. The Defendants received more than $300,000 from their targets. The funds were ultimately withdrawn by, or transferred to, co-conspirators in Jamaica, and the Defendants retained a 25% cut of the scamming proceeds. At least 67 victims, who were mostly elderly, suffered a loss as part of the scheme. Twenty-five of those victims were more than 80 years old, and several victims were targeted multiple times.
United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon sentenced Gray to 63 months, Gordon to 63 months, Reid to 51 months, and Powell to 33 months. The Defendants were each sentenced to three years of court-ordered supervision to follow their federal prison sentences in the event they are not deported upon release. There is no parole in the federal system. The Defendants were also ordered to pay $349,433.75 in restitution to their victims.
This case was investigated by HSI and USPIS. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek A. Shoemake prosecuted the case.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of South Carolina