Con Men Claimed Victims Won the Sweepstakes and Then Cleaned Them Out
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced charges against seven individuals in fraud and money laundering conspiracies dating from July 2017 through September 2018.
LINKOY BENNETT, RENNEIL WILLIAMS, DWAYNE BORELAND, TIFFANY RANDOLPH, and OSHANE ROYE, and their associates allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud elderly victims by telling them they won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, but needed to prepay their taxes to obtain their winnings. BENNETT, WILLIAMS, BORELAND, and RANDOLPH, as well as FABIAN ROBINSON, and HARRIANN MITCHELL, were also charged in a money laundering conspiracy related to the fraudulent scheme. Seven defendants were arrested in the Southern District of New York and will be presented today before United States Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “These seven defendants allegedly engaged in the scheme to contact elderly victims under the guise of winning a sweepstakes, imploring them to prepay taxes on their ‘winnings’ before they could collect.
“In reality, this was a coldhearted scheme to bilk over $1 million from over 30 victims. Linkoy Bennet and his co-defendants played the lottery with the law and their luck has run out, as they now face up to 20 years in federal prison.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Unfortunately, many elderly citizens find themselves in less than desirable financial situations, creating within them a constant worry about money. This is one of the many reasons they’re targeted by criminals as attractive victims.
“Crimes like the one our defendants are charged with today not only provide false hope for their prey, but have the potential to inflict severe emotional wounds. An important step in avoiding being victimized is educating the public about the many scams targeting the elderly. If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or know a senior who may be, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local FBI field office or law enforcement agency.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint: From at least in or about July 2017 through in or about September 2018, LINKOY BENNETT, RENNEIL WILLIAMS, DWAYNE BORELAND, TIFFANY RANDOLPH, OSHANE ROYE, FABIAN ROBINSON, and HARRIANN MITCHELL, collected the proceeds of a fraudulent scheme.
During the scheme, unnamed co-conspirators called elderly victims throughout the United States, and falsely told the victims they won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, but needed to prepay taxes and fees to receive their winnings. The victims sent cash, postal money orders, wire transfers, personal and cashier’s checks to the defendants at various addresses in the Southern District of New York.
The defendants collected the proceeds of the scheme, and remitted them to an unnamed co-conspirator.
BENNETT, 22, of the Bronx, New York, WILLIAMS, 32, of the Bronx, New York, BORELAND, 37, of the Bronx, New York, RANDOLPH, 30, of White Plains, New York, and ROYE, 23, of the Bronx, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. BENNETT, WILLIAMS, BORELAND, and RANDOLPH, as well as FABIAN ROBINSON, 33, of the Bronx, New York, and HARRIANN MITCHELL, 38, of the Bronx, New York, are charged with a conspiracy launder the proceeds of the scheme.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.