Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jamaican Man First To Be Extradited To Face Fraud Charges In International Lottery Scheme

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A 28-year-old man was extradited from Jamaica based on charges that he committed fraud as part of an international lottery scheme against elderly victims in the United States, the Justice Department announced today.

Damion Bryan Barrett is charged in a 38-count indictment in the Southern District of Florida with conspiracy and 37 counts of wire fraud, and with committing these offenses via telemarketing.

According to the indictment, Barrett and his co-conspirators fraudulently induced elderly victims in the United States to send them thousands of dollars to pay purported fees for lottery winnings that victims had not in fact won.  Barrett is the first Jamaican citizen to be extradited from Jamaica to the United States based on charges of defrauding Americans in connection with a lottery scheme.

Barrett arrived today in Opa-locka, Florida.  He will make his initial appearance on Feb. 13 before Magistrate Judge Alicia O. Valle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 9, 2012, and was arrested last month in Jamaica based on the United States’ request that he be extradited.  Barrett’s extradition is the latest step in the United States’ ongoing crackdown on fraudulent lottery schemes based in Jamaica.

According to the indictment, beginning in October 2008, Barrett and his co-conspirators contacted victims in the United States announcing that the victims had won cash and prizes and persuaded the victims to send them thousands of dollars in fees to release the money.  The victims never received cash or prizes.  The defendant and his co-conspirators allegedly made calls from Jamaica using voice over internet protocol technology that allowed them to use a telephone number with a U.S. area code.  According to the indictment, Barrett convinced victims to send money to middlemen in South Florida, who then forwarded the money to Jamaica.

“The Department of Justice will find and prosecute those responsible for fraud against American consumers, no matter where the perpetrator resides,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Lottery schemes that target elderly victims for fraud cannot, and will not, be tolerated.”

“Persons who commit crimes against American seniors from outside of the United States will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.  “This case serves as an example that there are no borders when it comes to obtaining justice for the victims of these lottery schemes.”

“Today's extradition signals strong partnership between the Jamaica Constabulary Force and our U.S. law enforcement partners,” said Commissioner of Police Dr. Carl Williams of the  Jamaica
Constabulary Force.  “We use this opportunity to warn other lottery scammers who continue to prey on unsuspecting U.S. citizens, that they too will pay the penalty, whether through conviction in Jamaica or through extradition to the United States.  We continue to address this with a high level of attention to contain the scourge.”

If convicted, Barrett faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison per count, a possible fine and mandatory restitution.  Barrett’s co-defendant, Oneike Barnett, 29, pleaded guilty on Feb. 28, 2014, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  On April 29, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch sentenced Barnett to serve 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release, and to pay $94,456 in restitution for his role in this case.   

“These criminal telemarking scams heartlessly target the elderly in the United States, at times stealing their life savings,” said Special Agent in Charge Alysa D. Erichs of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Miami.  “The successful extradition of Damion Bryan Barrett sends a clear message that the cooperation between our countries is focused on bringing these offenders to justice despite borders that separate us.  This extradition and hopefully others that may follow suit will have a positive impact on diminishing this crime.”

“Together with our international and domestic law enforcement partners we have proven that justice has no borders,” said U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Ronald Verrochio of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Miami Division.  “We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who defraud American citizens, anywhere in the world.”

“The U.S. Marshals Service, together with our federal partners, will continue to track down and bring to justice those that would pray on our most vulnerable in our country,” said U.S. Marshal Amos Rojas of the Southern District of Florida.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Branda and U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of USPIS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) HSI Miami and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kathryn Drenning of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani of the Southern District of Florida.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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