(AP) — Two Jamaicans have pleaded guilty to participating in a lottery scam that cheated victims in multiple states out of a total of about US$600,000, federal prosecutors in Rhode Island said Thursday.
Kayan Kitson, 38, pleaded guilty Thursday in US District Court in Providence to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Jason Wedderburn, 42, pleaded guilty to the same charge earlier this week.
The victims, many of them older, received unsolicited contact from the scammers and were told they had won hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some cases more than US$1 million, in a lottery, prosecutors said.
To collect their winnings, the victims were told they would have to pay “fees” to cover taxes or processing.
The victims were instructed to mail checks or money orders made out to the defendants to cover those fees, or were provided instructions for depositing the funds into bank accounts controlled by the defendants, prosecutors said.
Once deposited, the funds were either quickly withdrawn, sometimes from ATMs in Jamaica, or transferred to other bank accounts.
The victims never received a penny. One person from Massachusetts was cheated out of more than US$325,000, prosecutors said.
Kitson and Wedderburn, both citizens of Jamaica, face sentencing on October 6.