(Newsroom America) -- Two people have been charged in connection with the operation of a fraudulent lottery scheme in south Florida following their indictment by a federal grand jury in Miami.
Althea Angela Peart and Charmaine Anne King were arrested on charges that they and their co-conspirators, some of whom operated from outside of the U.S., participated in a fraudulent lottery scheme.
As alleged in the indictment, co-conspirators induced elderly victims in the U.S. to send thousands of dollars to Peart and King to cover fees for lottery winnings that victims had not won.
The indictment, unsealed with Peart’s and King’s arrests, is part of the government’s crackdown on fraudulent international lottery schemes.
From March 2012, Peart’s and King’s co-conspirators are alleged to have contacted victims in the U.S. and falsely informed them that they had won more than a million dollars in a lottery.
According to the indictment, the co-conspirators sent letters to the victims from a purported sweepstakes company in the U.S. and included false and fraudulent cashier’s checks made out to the victims for thousands of dollars.
As alleged in the indictment, these letters told victims to call “claims agents” who were actually co-conspirators, and when the victims called the purported claims agents, the agents informed the victims that they had to pay several thousand dollars in order to collect their purported lottery winnings.
The claims agents allegedly told the victims to deposit the cashier’s checks in the victims’ bank accounts in order to purportedly cover the money they had to pay. The co-conspirators allegedly instructed the victims on how to send and wire this money to Peart and King.
The indictment charges that Peart and King each kept a percentage of the money they received from victims and sent the rest of the money to their co-conspirators. According to the indictment, because the cashier’s checks were false and fraudulent and had no value, any payments the victims sent to Peart and King were funded by their own money, and victims never received any lottery winnings.
“As fraudsters from outside of the United States seek to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable in our community, they rely on co-conspirators in the United States for help,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer. “As I have previously stated, we will continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute those responsible for these illegal schemes.”
Peart is charged with conspiracy, eight counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud and with committing these offenses via telemarketing. King is charged with conspiracy, four counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud and with committing these offenses via telemarketing.