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Jamaican lottery scam ringleader pleads guilty

Jul 28, 2017, 10:25 am

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Scam AlertScam Alert: Jamaican lottery scam ringleader pleads guiltyRating:

BISMARCK, N.D. — A Jamaican man accused of masterminding a lottery scam that defrauded dozens of mostly elderly Americans out of millions of dollars has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and a federal prosecutor says more defendants in the case might do the same.

Lavrick Willocks, 28, reached an agreement with federal prosecutors in North Dakota earlier this month and appeared in court Thursday to enter his plea. Prosecutors dropped 65 other counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Willocks faces up to 40 years in prison, though prosecutors have agreed to recommend a much lighter punishment of about 10 years because he cooperated with authorities. The government also will recommend that he pay restitution. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland didn't immediately schedule sentencing.

Willocks, who has a bachelor's degree in hospitality administration from Southern New Hampshire University, told Hovland that he got involved in lottery scams in October 2009 when he returned to Jamaica and wanted to help his mother through financial problems.

"If you don't know somebody, it's hard to get a job," Willocks said.

Authorities say the scam operated out of a Kingston, Jamaica, mansion where Willocks lived with his mother, Dahlia Hunter, who also is charged. At least 90 mostly elderly Americans lost a total of more than $5.7 million.

The case has a total of 15 defendants, including Willocks and his mother.

One of them, Alrick McLeod, signed a plea deal Wednesday similar to the one Willocks signed. Eight others who also have been extradited to North Dakota and have pleaded not guilty are still scheduled for trial beginning Jan. 22, 2018, though Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Hochhalter said in court that plea deal talks are in the works with many of them.

"I'm hopeful we can really move forward with this case and have some closure," he said.

Another defendant, Gregory Gooden, who was arrested in Jamaica last month, has an initial appearance scheduled Friday in federal court in Bismarck. Another is still in Jamaica awaiting extradition, and three others remain fugitives.

The scam began to unravel when a woman in the North Dakota town of Harvey lost her life savings of more than $300,000 in 2011. Federal authorities began investigating in 2012. Authorities have dubbed the case "Operation Hard Copy," a reference to lists of prospective victims' contact information used by scammers.

Variations of the scam continue to victimize people in the U.S. and other countries, according to federal prosecutors. The Federal Trade Commission estimates lottery scams could be a billion-dollar-a-year industry in Jamaica.

Sanjay Williams, of Montego Bay, Jamaica, who authorities say was a cohort of Willock's and ran a separate scam, was convicted by a U.S. jury in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Willocks said in court Thursday that he had never met Williams.

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AP, Lottery Post Staff

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8 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by ronki.
Page 1 of 1
Bellingham, WA
United States
Member #86466
February 4, 2010
44 Posts

Cussing FacePut all of them somewhere in hard labor until all of that money that they took from the elderly is paid back, plus 10 years!!!

    United States
    Member #163184
    January 22, 2015
    2256 Posts

    Full restitution to all those elderly folks then 5 years probation.  No jail time because then the taxpayers feed and house this criminal.

      picktowin's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg
      United States
      Member #49377
      January 28, 2007
      3775 Posts

      First of all none of them should get a light sentence.

      They all should rot in prison.

      Second what is wrong with people falling for these idiots games.

      Older should be wiser !!!

      U want to help your kids and grandkids future.

      Look out for yourself first  !!

      They will spend whatever they get more likely  go threw it like water.

      Speaking from an elderly person like myself.

        zephbe's avatar - animal butterfly.jpg
        South Carolina
        United States
        Member #77165
        July 15, 2009
        897 Posts

        Sell the mansion and every other thing he owns and pay those people back he scammed.  Takes a really heartless person to steal from the elderly.

        Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.-Rocky Balboa

        “Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours.” – Zig Ziglar


          United States
          Member #164719
          March 12, 2015
          1300 Posts

          There are 90 victims who lost approx $5.7 million. No way are they ever going to be made close to whole again no matter what kind of sentence he is given. It's terrible when the elderly are preyed upon. 

            music*'s avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
            USN United States Navy
            Fresno, California
            United States
            Member #157851
            August 2, 2014
            3959 Posts

             Some of the elderly spend years alone and lonely. They hope to get a phone call from family but it never comes. They are then easy targets for criminals. The criminals call and call and make conversation with them. Then the con-job begins. 

             An extradition is a powerful tool. 


             "We are all in this together!" 

              Groppo's avatar - cat anm.gif

              United States
              Member #162626
              January 7, 2015
              778 Posts


              Good, facing a lengthy prison sentence for defrauding many.  I'd say that's fair.
              I have absolutely no pity for him.

              I hope he rots in jail, along with his many friends and relatives,  because defrauding
              anyone out of anything is not a game I've ever played, or intended to play.

              White collar crimes, like the one that failed him are not normally picked up from the street.
              He had to have a significant upbringing or training, in his doomed craft.

              Just looking at him, I wouldn't think he could even file his own taxes on his own, without the fraud.

              • Don't chase the numbers you play.
              • Play only numbers you've already played, plus however many random picks.
              • But, ALWAYS the regular numbers you play.  This will make you a winner, not a chaser.
                         (so far, though, I've yet to win any significant lotto prize)
              • Oh, but always know where your tickets are, as well as your ticket's deadline.
                United States
                Member #37193
                April 12, 2006
                54 Posts

                Give him the 40 years