person sitting front of laptop

WASHINGTON D.C.

A resident of St. James Parish, Jamaica, was extradited to the United States to answer charges relating to a phony sweepstakes scheme,  officials stated.

The scam targeted elderly victims in the United States, the Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced Tuesday.

Damone D. Oakley, 40, of the Point District, St. James Parish, was charged in a 16-count indictment with mail and wire fraud.

The indictment was filed in federal court in June 2021, officials stated.

According to the indictment, Oakley sought to unlawfully enrich himself through a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme targeting the elderly.

Victims throughout the United States received mailings, text messages or phone calls in which they were falsely told that they had won millions of dollars and luxury vehicles in a sweepstakes, but first needed to pay taxes and fees in order to claim their winnings.

The indictment alleges that Oakley, using a variety of names, including “Officer Alex Logan” and “Officer Stan Valentine,” instructed his victims on how to send their money (and to whom the funds should be sent), including through the use of wire transfers, direct bank deposits, the U.S. Postal Service and private commercial mail carriers.

Victims were directed to send money directly to Oakley as well as to individuals in the United States and elsewhere who served as intermediaries and transmitted the money to Oakley.

In addition to sending cash or wire transfers, the indictment alleges that victims were directed to purchase electronics, jewelry and clothing, and to then have the purchased items shipped to mail forwarding services in Florida. The victims never received any “winnings.”

“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch is committed to pursuing criminals who defraud vulnerable U.S. consumers – both domestically and abroad – and to prosecuting them to the full extent of the law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

Adding, “this is the first extradition requested by the United States in accordance with the evidentiary rules contained in Jamaica’s recently revised Extradition Act, and we are encouraged by the streamlined extradition process that led to the defendant’s appearance in federal court to face these charges.”

“Scammers like these are targeting the most vulnerable people in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. “In the Middle District of Pennsylvania, we are proud to prioritize and prosecute individuals who engage in such acts and commend our law enforcement partners who help make these results possible.”

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Consumer Protection Branch, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Haugsby for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. 

The department’s extensive and broad-based efforts to combat elder fraud seeks to halt the widespread losses seniors suffer from fraud schemes. The best method for prevention, however, is by sharing information about the various types of elder fraud schemes with relatives, friends, neighbors and other seniors who can use that information to protect themselves.

If you or someone you know is age 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).

This Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps.

Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis.

The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish and other languages are available.

Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

By Raul

Raul Hernandez is a former journalist. He has worked as a newspaper reporter for more than 30 years at the El Paso Herald-Post, El Paso Times, Press Enterprise in Riverside, California and the Ventura County Star in California. He was a court reporter for more than 20 years.