Former ‘sweepstakes scammer’ sentenced by PA judge to 16 years in Federal prison

13 November 2023- The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Jamaican national was sentenced on November 9, 2023, in federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to 192 months in prison for his role in a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly victims in the United States.

Damone Oakley, 41, of St. James Parish, Jamaica, was extradited to the United States in 2022 and pleaded guilty in July 2023 to two counts of mail and two counts of wire fraud.

From at least 2010 through 2019, Oakley participated in a fraudulent sweepstakes scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims. Oakley’s victims received mailings, text messages or phone calls in which they were falsely told that they had won millions of dollars and luxury vehicles in a sweepstakes, but first needed to pay taxes and fees in order to claim their winnings. Oakley used phony names during the scheme, including “Officer Alex Logan” and “Officer Stan Valentine,” and instructed his victims on how to send their money (and to whom the funds should be sent). His victims were located throughout the United States, and used wire transfers, direct bank deposits, the U.S. Postal Service and private commercial mail carriers to send money directly to Oakley as well as to individuals in the United States and elsewhere who served as intermediaries and transmitted the money to Oakley. In addition to sending cash or wire transfers, Oakley’s victims were directed to purchase electronics, jewelry and clothing, which were sent to mail forwarding services in Florida, and then on to Oakley in Jamaica. The victims never received any “winnings.” Oakley’s victims lost hundreds of thousands of dollars during the course of the scheme.

“This sentence reflects our office’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society and punishing those who engage in this type of behavior,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Middle District of Pennsylvania. “Working together with our skilled and dedicated law enforcement partners, Oakley was held accountable for his crimes.”

“The Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and its law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue individuals who prey on vulnerable and elderly victims through fraudulent schemes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Through our National Elder Fraud Hotline, we identify perpetrators of these schemes and prioritize the pursuit of those who deliberately target vulnerable consumers, who often can least afford to sustain financial losses.”

“There was a time when scammers operating beyond our borders felt they could operate with impunity. Those days are gone,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Services (USPIS) Criminal Investigations Group. “Postal inspectors track down these scammers no matter where they are. And with our Department of Justice partners’ extradition powers, scammers are brought to the United States to face the music. In this case, it’s to the tune of 192 months in prison.”