Lottery scammers steal $1.2 million from one victim

Criminal receives 6 years in jail for crimes of conspiracy and fraud

By Kate Northrop

Following stealing around $1 million from 1 single target, the chief of a ring of Jamaican rip-off artists was sentenced Friday to just about six years in prison.

Like any normal scammer, Stieve Fernandez, 35, invested his time deceiving susceptible men and women and robbing aged targets of their lifetime price savings as part of a large-performing underground community of lottery fraudsters.

Fernandez was claimed to have bought guide sheets, which have the names and telephone quantities of people today perhaps susceptible to scams. He would contact persons on the lists to consider to convince them that they had gained massive in a international lottery or sweepstakes. In get to gather their prize, nevertheless, they ended up instructed to spend upfront bogus fees disguised as taxes, insurance policies, dealing with prices, and many other bills.

In performing so, he stole $1.2 million from 1 one victim.

The aged person, who resides in Mystic, Connecticut, and whose identity continues to be anonymous as a crime sufferer, was very first contacted by Fernandez in 2015. Amongst then and 2018, Fernandez gave the unsuspecting male guidelines with an American accent and though below a variety of pseudonyms, such as “Damian Jackson,” “Jesse Jackson,” and “Huckleberry Finn.”

The sufferer followed Fernandez’s directions by sending him and his accomplices over a million dollars by using postal money orders and investment decision account transfers. He experienced even absent so far as to buy and transfer gold and silver bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Fernandez made use of the stolen resources to buy a house in Jamaica and a scenic vineyard in Argentina. He held two canines at the vineyard and named them right after his wife and the Mystic target he deceived.

“They have been the folks whose income experienced paid out for them,” the prosecution reported he bragged to a co-conspirator.

That was just one case of fraud. In accordance to prosecutors, Fernandez carried out equivalent lottery scams from four other aged men and women. He correctly swindled $684,500 from them and had tried to steal an more $222,000.

He was also suspected of operating with a girlfriend residing in Canada, a cousin thought to have resided in Florida, and two other associates. The cousin, Horace Crooks, was sentenced to a 12 months in prison in June, while his girlfriend, Minique Morris, awaits sentencing.

In October 2018, Fernandez and his associates were indicted by a New Haven grand jury. He was arrested in Jamaica in Might 2019, was extradited to the United States, and has been detained considering the fact that.

The crook tried using to argue in courtroom that he was just “a uncomplicated farmer” and “a devoted loved ones man” who “was brought up in the violence of gangland Jamaica.” He recalled that his young brother was “stabbed far more than sixty occasions, shot extra than 30 periods and established on fire since he could not shell out extortion revenue” and talked about becoming “captured and tortured by a regional gang.”

He said that he was also self-taught in “pc restore, audio engineering, and Bonsai art.”

In February of this 12 months, Fernandez pleaded responsible to 1 rely of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. On Friday, he was sentenced by U.S. District Choose Kari A. Dooley to 71 months in prison and was ordered to fork out $1,196,207 in restitution.