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U.S. citizen convicted for role in international lottery scam

WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Miami last week convicted a South Florida resident for her role in an international fraudulent lottery scheme that targeted U.S. citizens, the Justice Department announced. Charmaine Anne King, 51, of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. was convicted of one count of conspiracy, three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. The case is part of the government’s crackdown on international fraudulent lottery schemes.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against King and a co-conspirator on Oct. 31, 2013, charging that King’s co-conspirators contacted individuals in the U.S. and falsely informed them that they had won more than a million dollars in a lottery. The evidence at trial showed that a co-conspirator 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. These letters instructed 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 fees in order to collect their purported lottery winnings. The claims agents 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 instructed the victims on how to send and wire this money to King and others.

Evidence presented at trial showed that King kept a percentage of the money she received from victims and sent the rest of the money to a co-conspirator. King continued to participate in this scheme even after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service verbally informed her that she was participating in unlawful activity, and after she later signed a Cease and Desist Order requiring that she stop receiving money from victims of fraud. The Cease and Desist Order that King signed referenced a complaint detailing the activity that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service explained was unlawful.

As the evidence presented at trial showed, the cashier’s checks victims received from the fraudulent lottery had no value. The evidence demonstrated that after the victims sent money to King, the fraudulent cashier’s checks bounced. Victims never received any lottery winnings.

King faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison on each count of conviction, a fine and mandatory restitution. King’s sentencing has been scheduled for April 17, 2014.

Also, on Feb. 4, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore adopted a report and recommendation accepting the guilty plea of King’s co-defendant, Althea Peart. Peart had entered a change of plea to guilty on Jan. 9, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 20, 2014.

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