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A fifth defendant pleaded guilty Wednesday in New York to participate in a fraudulent, multi-million dollar mass-mailing scheme that tricked consumers into paying fees for falsely promised cash prizes.

According to court documents, from November 2013 through November 2018, Carmine Maietta, 75, of Westbury, New York, engaged in a direct-mail scheme that sent fraudulent prize notification mailings to thousands of consumers.

The mailings induced consumers to pay a fee, purportedly in return for a large cash prize. None of the consumers who sent a fee ever received such a prize.  Maietta pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. 

“Mass mailing fraud schemes often trick elderly victims into sending money based on false promises of large cash prizes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“With today’s guilty plea, Maietta admits to deceiving elderly and other vulnerable victims into believing they had won cash prizes when, in reality, he was simply pocketing their hard-earned funds,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “

“Sweepstakes and other frauds are extremely damaging to those who fall victim to a scammers’ pitch of trickery and lies,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel B. Brubaker of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Four other defendants previously plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for participating in the scheme:

  • Charles Kafeiti, 58, of Scottsdale, Arizona, pleaded guilty on Dec. 23, 2020.
  • Steven Diaz, 53, of Mount Sinai, New York, pleaded guilty on Feb. 8, 2021.
  • Anthony Kafeiti, 61, of Port Jefferson, New York, pleaded guilty on July 28, 2021. 
  • Drew Wilson, 63, of British Columbia, Canada, pleaded guilty on Aug. 24, 2021.

The defendants were part of a multi-million dollar mail fraud scheme in which they worked together to coordinate the mailings, open and process victims’ responses to the fraudulent solicitations, manage lists of recipients and respondents, and process victim payments, according to authorities.

Maietta will be sentenced at a later date.

Each of the five defendants faces  up to 20 years in prison.

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

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).

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.