Two individuals have pleaded guilty to an international telemarketing sweepstakes fraud scheme that defrauded numerous elderly and vulnerable victims in the United States of more than $9 million.
According to court documents, Maurice Levy, 51, and Derrick Levy, 54, both of Jamaica, admitted that between July 2008 and September 2016, they worked in call centers in Costa Rica that defrauded victims in the United States. Derrick Levy and Maurice Levy admitted that they concealed their physical location using Voice-over-IP technology, which enabled them to give victims telephone numbers that, although bearing U.S. area codes, were actually answered at the call centers in Costa Rica. Maurice Levy and Derrick Levy further admitted that they would call individuals in the United States, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, and falsely claim that the individuals had won a sweepstakes prize but were required to pay fees prior to the delivery of the prize. In truth, no such prize existed. Once a victim made an initial payment for the purported fees, Maurice Levy, Derrick Levy, and their co-conspirators would continue to call the victim, falsely representing that a mistake had been made and that the victim had actually won a prize of a greater amount, or an issue had occurred, and the victim needed to pay additional fees to claim the prize. Many victims sent tens of thousands of dollars to Maurice Levy, Derrick Levy, and their co-conspirators in response to these calls. During the scheme, Derrick Levy and Maurice Levy fraudulently obtained more than $9,400,000 from victims, which was used to continue operating the call centers and for the co-conspirators’ personal benefit.
Maurice Levy pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will be sentenced at a future date. Derrick Levy pleaded guilty on Jan. 25 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will be sentenced on Sept. 28. They each face at least up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Dena J. King of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina; Inspector in Charge Tommy Coke of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Atlanta Division; Special Agent in Charge Donald “Trey” Eakins of IRS Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Charlotte Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells of the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-CI, and the FBI, with assistance from the Federal Trade Commission, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Costa Rican authorities also provided assistance.
Trial Attorney Jason M. Covert of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section uses the Victim Notification System (VNS) to provide victims with case information and updates related to this case. Victims with questions may contact the Fraud Section’s Victim Assistance Unit by calling the Victim Assistance phone line at 1-888-549-3945 or by emailing Victimassistance.firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about victims’ rights, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-vns/victim-rights-derechos-de-las-v-ctimas. If you believe you are a victim of the conduct described in the plea agreements and informations, please visit https://www.justice.gov/criminal-vns/case/united-states-v-levy-et-al.