EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Monday that a Jamaican national was sentenced on Thursday, November 9, in federal court in Scranton, to 16 years in prison for his role in a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly victims in the United States.
According to U.S. Attorneys, Damone Oakley, 41, of St. James Parish, Jamaica, was extradited to the United States and pleaded guilty in July to two counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.
A Department of Justice (D.O.J) press release reads, that from 2010 through 2019, Oakley participated in a fake sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims. Oakley’s victims received mailings, text messages, or phone calls where they were falsely told that they won millions of dollars and luxury vehicles in a sweepstakes, but first needed to pay taxes and fees to claim their winnings.
Law enforcement said Oakley used false names during the scam, including “Officer Alex Logan” and “Officer Stan Valentine,” who would instruct his victims where and how to send their money, as well as, to who the money should be sent.
The DOJ says Oakley’s victims were located throughout the United States and his victims used wire transfers, direct bank deposits, the U.S. Postal Service, and private commercial mail carriers to send money directly to Oakley, as well as individuals in the U.S. and elsewhere who served as “middle-men” who then sent funds to Oakley.
According to the DOJ, in addition to sending cash or wire transfers, Oakley’s victims were directed to purchase electronics, jewelry, and clothing, which were sent to mail forwarding services in Florida, and then to Oakley in Jamaica.
As the press release reads, Oakley’s victims never received any “winnings,” and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars during the scheme.
“This sentence reflects our office`s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society and punishing those who engage in this type of behavior. Working together with our skilled and dedicated law enforcement partners, Oakley was held accountable for his crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Middle District of Pennsylvania.
“The Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and its law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue individuals who prey on vulnerable and elderly victims through fraudulent schemes. Through our National Elder Fraud Hotline, we identify perpetrators of these schemes and prioritize the pursuit of those who deliberately target vulnerable consumers, who often can least afford to sustain financial losses,” added Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Departments Civil Division.
There was a time when scammers operating beyond our borders felt they could operate with impunity. Those days are gone. Postal inspectors track down these scammers no matter where they are. And with our Department of Justice partner extradition powers, scammers are brought to the United States to face the music. In this case, it’s to the tune of 192 months in prison.”Inspector in Charge Eric Shen, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Services (USPIS) Criminal Investigations Group
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Jamaica to secure the arrest and extradition of Oakley.
If you or someone you know is aged 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch, visit its website. Information about the Justice Department’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available on their website also.