You know those people who live in foreign countries and place calls into the US in an attempt to defraud people here? Those calls your mother or grandfather receive telling them that they won $1,000,000 in the Jamaican lottery and will receive the money as soon as they wire $20,000 to cover the taxes and administrative costs?
I was very pleased to read that the U.S. extradited Damian Bryan Barrett from Jamaica and prosecuted him for his role in an international lottery scheme perpetrated against elderly victims in the United States. The prosecution is part of the United States’ ongoing crackdown on fraudulent international lottery schemes.
Barrett, who is 28 years old, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch of the Southern District of Florida to serve 46 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Barrett was also ordered to pay $94,456 in restitution. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on August 9, 2012, and was arrested in January 2015 in Jamaica based on the United States’ request that he be extradited to this country. Barrett was extradited to the United States on February 12, 2015 and was the first Jamaican to be extradited to the United States based on charges that he committed fraud as part of an international lottery scheme.
On April 10, 2015, Barrett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of his guilty plea, Barrett acknowledged that had the case gone to trial, the United States would have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that from 2008 through 2012, he was a member of a conspiracy in which elderly victims were informed that they had won a large amount of money in a lottery and were induced to pay bogus fees in advance of receiving their purported lottery winnings. Barrett also admitted that the United States would have proved that he knew the claims of lottery winnings were completely fabricated and that he and his co-conspirators kept the victims’ money for their own benefit without paying any lottery winnings. Barrett also admitted that the United States would have proved that in an effort to convince the victims that the lottery winnings were real, the conspirators sent the victims communications discussing their purported lottery winnings, which falsely claimed to be from a genuine sweepstakes company and from federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve. In fact, these communications were not from a genuine sweepstakes company or from agencies of the United States.
Barrett’s co-defendant, Oneike Barnett, 29, pleaded guilty on February 28, 2014, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. On April 29, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch sentenced Barnett to serve 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release, and to pay $94,456 in restitution for his role in this case.
“This case is an excellent example of coordination between domestic and international law enforcement agencies to hold those who facilitate and participate in fraudulent schemes accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida. “We will continue to foster this cooperation in order to crackdown on international lottery fraud so that members of our community are protected and are not deprived of their hard earned savings.”
“This sentence sends a very strong message that scammers operating in foreign countries will be held accountable for the laws they break in the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Justice Department is committed to bringing these international fraudsters to justice.”
U.S. Attorney Ferrer and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer commended the investigative efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Kathryn Drenning of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.