28 November 2023- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Caron Pitter, age 47, Rohan Lyttle, age 49, and Charlene Marshall, age 44, lawful permanent residents of the United States and originally from Jamaica, were found guilty of all charges against them following a two-week jury trial that concluded on November 17, 2023. The indictment charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition to the conspiracy charges against all defendants, Caron Pitter was charged with several counts of mail fraud, and Rohan Lyttle was charged with multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and interstate transportation of goods taken by fraud. A fourth defendant, Rohan Lytle, Jr., age 26, was charged with some of the same offenses, and he remains a fugitive.
According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the defendants received funds from victims of a Jamaican lottery scam between 2017 and 2020. The evidence 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 and 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. These elderly individuals were then directed to make payments in various ways, including by sending packages containing tens of thousands of U.S. dollars through the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and Federal Express. In addition to cash packages sent by mail, the victims transmitted funds through bank-to-bank wire transfers, Zelle, MoneyGram, and Western Union. Victims were also defrauded in other ways. For instance, fraudsters gained access to victims’ credit cards and Amazon accounts and used those accounts to purchase goods, such as mobile phones and televisions. They also obtained debit cards for victims’ checking accounts and used those cards to make cash withdrawals at ATMs located in Jamaica.
Several victims testified at trial. 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 $1.1 million in connection with this fraud scheme.
All of these victims testified that they were contacted by a representative of Publisher’s Clearing House and directed to send money to claim their respective prizes. All of them sent money to the defendants charged in this case, as well as other locations. The victim from Mechanicsburg, PA and the victim from Philadelphia, PA collectively sent in excess of $200,000 in cash packages just to these defendants. In some cases, victims were also directed to receive funds from third parties that they didn’t know and send those funds to other individuals that they were led to believe were also Publisher’s Clearing House representatives.
Evidence at trial also showed that the defendants operated an auto body shop in Queens, New York known as Rocars Auto and an affiliated used car dealership based in Kingston, Jamaica known as Rolcam Company Limited. The defendants used the proceeds of the lottery scam to purchase and repair salvage vehicles from online vehicle auctions and ship those vehicles to Rolcam Company Limited for sale to customers in Jamaica.
The victim from Mechanicsburg, PA was also told that he had won a new Range Rover, in addition to his cash prize. He was directed to pay for and ship over $15,000 in parts from a Land Rover car dealership to Rocars Auto in Queens, New York, under the false pretense that his vehicle was in need of upgrades before it could be sent to him. The evidence at trial showed that the defendants used these 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 Rolcam Company Limited in Kingston, Jamaica, where it was sold to an unidentified buyer believed to be associated with the lottery scam.
The defendants used various means to disguise their receipt of victim funds, including distributing the money among each other so that the funds could be deposited in a variety of bank accounts and exchanged for cashier’s checks so that they would not appear in bank accounts at all. The defendants also regularly broke up larger amounts of cash into smaller amounts to make their deposits look smaller in size, which had the effect of evading banks’ reporting requirements for large cash transactions.
The maximum penalty under federal law for mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering is 20 years for each offense. The maximum penalty for interstate transportation of goods taken by fraud is 10 years. The Court may also impose on each defendant a term of supervised release following imprisonment and a fine.