Lottery scammers in the US linked to car dealership in Jamaica

Lottery scammers in the US linked to car dealership in Jamaica

Three Jamaica-born individuals have been convicted in Pennsylvania, United States, for their roles in a lottery scam that targeted elderly Americans between 2017 and 2020, defrauding them of millions of dollars.

The scheme reportedly involved an auto-body shop in New York that is linked to a used car dealership in Jamaica.

The convicts are 47-year-old Caron Pitter, Rohan Lyttle, 49, and Charlene Marshall, 44, who are all lawful permanent residents of the US.

The trio was found guilty of several charges following a two-week jury trial that concluded on November 17, 2023, a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said on Monday.

Their sentencing date was not disclosed in the statement.

The indictment charged the trio with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering

Additionally, Pitter was charged with several counts of mail fraud, while Lyttle was charged with multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and interstate transportation of goods taken by fraud.

A fourth defendant, Rohan Lyttle Jr, 26, was charged with some of the same offences, but he remains a fugitive.

The evidence presented at trial showed that an individual based in Jamaica, posing as a representative of Publisher’s Clearing House, used “lead lists” containing the names and personal information of elderly Americans to contact potential victims.

These individuals were contacted by phone, as well as by email, and falsely told that they had won multimillion-dollar prizes through Publisher’s Clearing House, but needed to prepay taxes and other fees in order to claim their supposed prizes.

The victims were then directed to make payments through various methods, including sending packages containing “tens of thousands of US dollars” through the US Postal Service (UPS) and Federal Express, the authorities said.

In addition to cash packages sent by mail, the victims transmitted funds through bank-to-bank wire transfers, Zelle, MoneyGram, and Western Union.

The scammers also obtained debit cards for victims’ chequing accounts, and used those cards to make cash withdrawals at ATMs located in Jamaica.

At the trial, several of the victims testified. They included a 78-year-old former resident of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; a 70-year-old resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and a 90-year-old resident of Walterboro, South Carolina.

Collectively, these victims lost over US$1.1 million in connection with the fraud scheme.

Further evidence was led at the trial that the trio operated an auto-body shop in Queens, New York, known as ‘Rocars Auto’, and an affiliated used car dealership based in Kingston, Jamaica.

According to prosecutors, the convicts used the proceeds of the lottery scam to purchase and repair salvage vehicles from online vehicle auctions and ship those vehicles to the car dealership for sale to customers in Jamaica.

In one instance, the victim from Mechanicsburg, was also told that he had won a new Range Rover, in addition to his cash prize.

The scammers directed him to pay for and ship over US$15,000 in parts from a Land Rover car dealership to Rocars Auto in Queens, New York, under the false pretence that his vehicle was in need of upgrades before it could be sent to him.

The Jamaican natives on trial used those parts to repair a 2019 Land Rover that they purchased from a salvage vehicle auction house.

After repairing the vehicle, they shipped it from Rocars Auto to the car dealership in Kingston, where it was sold to an unidentified buyer believed to be associated with the lottery scam.