Welcome Guest
Log In | Register )
You last visited October 24, 2020, 4:11 am
All times shown are
Eastern Time (GMT-5:00)

90-year-old ND woman lost $400K to Jamaican lottery scam — but she was paid back just $287

Nov 11, 2019, 12:29 pm

Share this news story on Facebook
Tweet this news story on Twitter
Scam AlertScam Alert: 90-year-old ND woman lost $400K to Jamaican lottery scam — but she was paid back just $287Rating:

Life savings gone for good

A 90-year-old North Dakota woman who was robbed of her life savings by a Jamaican lottery scam says she has been paid back only $287 of the $400,000 she's owed.

Edna Schmeets of Harvey, a small central North Dakota town about 77 miles northeast of Bismarck, was the victim whose case launched what became the first large-scale Jamaican lottery scam case prosecuted in the U.S. All 31 defendants have been prosecuted, including 14 Jamaican nationals who were extradited from that country. Authorities identified victims of the scam in 31 states, with more than 100 mostly elderly American bilked out of more than $6 million.

"I'm so disappointed," Schmeets told the Bismarck Tribune of the small amount she's gotten back. She said she was told another check for $138 is pending.

Federal prosecutors pledged to get at least some of the victims' money back. But offenders' inability to pay often limits the collection of restitution. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, many victims wait years before receiving any money, and many never received the full amount they were owed.

Most restitution ordered in federal court cases is never collected, according to a federal government report last year. The U.S. Government Accountability Office studied Justice Department data and found that at the end of fiscal 2016, $110 billion in previously ordered restitution was outstanding, and federal prosecutors had identified $100 billion of that — or 91% — as being uncollectable due to the offenders' inability to pay.

"Sadly, what you're seeing here (in the scam case) is all too typical, where victims are promised substantial restitution but the reality is much less," said Paul Cassell, a University of Utah law professor and special counsel with the National Crime Victim Law Institute.

Drew Wrigley, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota, said he empathizes with Schmeets.

"If we could monetize our gratitude, she'd be paid back in full immediately," said Wrigley, whose office recently was awarded a U.S. Department of Justice award for cracking the case.

Scammers would call victims and tell them they had won money in a lottery but that they needed to pay advance fees to collect it. The scammers would then keep the victims' money without paying out anything. The case was prosecuted in North Dakota because that is where the investigation began into Schmeets being scammed.

In 2011, shortly after her husband died, Schmeets began sending large checks, provided her credit card number, borrowed money from her sister and cashed out life insurance policies after she was told by a scammer that she had won $19 million in a lottery.

"I think about it every day; I always keep beating myself up," said Schmeets, who said she has no savings left. "How could you be so dang stupid?"

With the help of a bank worker, Schmeets' children eventually learned what was happening and alerted authorities, who started an investigation in 2012. Suspects were caught and prosecuted over the next seven years.

Most of the defendants accepted plea deals. The scam's alleged ringleader, Lavrick Willocks, was sentenced in 2018 to six years in prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution.

"We're making every effort to secure every dollar of restitution that we possibly can collect," said Wrigley, the top U.S. prosecutor for North Dakota,

But authorities face numerous challenges, including that many of the defendants live in a foreign country, which "adds another layer of bureaucracy," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan O'Konek said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase said scammers also have already spent much of the victims' money.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Sun Sentinel

We'd love to see your comments here!  Register for a FREE membership — it takes just a few moments — and you'll be able to post comments here and on any of our forums. If you're already a member, you can Log In to post a comment.

21 comments. Last comment 11 months ago by Jpaddy.
Page 1 of 2
Raven62's avatar - binary
25
New Jersey
United States
Member #17842
June 28, 2005
132123 Posts
Offline

Once the Money is Gone: It's hard to find it and Get It Back!

A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

    Avatar
    Florida
    United States
    Member #186825
    January 2, 2018
    292 Posts
    Offline

    Stupidity always comes with a price.

      Avatar
      Chasing $ Millions.
      White Shores- California
      United States
      Member #136473
      December 12, 2012
      6337 Posts
      Offline

      These stories are always heartbreaking, but Lisa, Ron, Tim & Jeff are just as culpable. Posing for a family shot is mind blowing. Where were these concerned kids when their Mother was being fleeced? The old excuse " Mom wants her independence, so we leave her alone is BS" Out here l have a friend of a friend who said " My kids have dumped me off here in a retirement community, l only receive b'day & Christmas cards from them." They never check in on me. She ended with, "'They in for a rude awakening, l have a new will written up, all my wealth is going to animal shelters."Approve

       * Voice of Reason *   

       

      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

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

          Edna is 90 years old. That places her in The Greatest Generation. That generation is slowly disappearing.  They helped save the World from two-bit Dictators. 

         We are enjoying The Long Peace.

         "We are all in this together!" 

          HaveABall's avatar - rocket

          United States
          Member #72446
          March 18, 2009
          1311 Posts
          Offline

          It's a shame that Edna's sister will never get her money back because of her sister's INTENSE  need to be secretive for extended periods of time!

          Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

          Disney

            Avatar
            Kentucky
            United States
            Member #32651
            February 14, 2006
            8998 Posts
            Offline

            Gave away $399,713; what else is there to say?

              Groppo's avatar - cat anm.gif

              United States
              Member #162626
              January 7, 2015
              780 Posts
              Offline

              .

              So, am I supposed to be saddened for the family's "loss" or what?
              How could anyone let them themselves be hammered for so much?
              Because it sounds like it was all a lie to begin with.

              I don't think the article goes into any of the "how"   (a.i.i.w.)

              Groppo

              • 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.
                brees2012's avatar - animal whale.jpg

                United States
                Member #125173
                March 26, 2012
                287 Posts
                Offline

                Yesterday A  Congressman were saying ,  how much elderly are scammed per year . 

                As he was talking ,I remember a family member said , where her boss ,

                were being scammed by foreigners . And officials were involved , didn't think

                the boss wouldn't get his money back ... This took place over 10 years ago .

                Family members should watch over there parents , so this doesn't happen !

                Ready To Win ....

                  Avatar
                  Kentucky
                  United States
                  Member #32651
                  February 14, 2006
                  8998 Posts
                  Offline

                  .

                  So, am I supposed to be saddened for the family's "loss" or what?
                  How could anyone let them themselves be hammered for so much?
                  Because it sounds like it was all a lie to begin with.

                  I don't think the article goes into any of the "how"   (a.i.i.w.)

                  Groppo

                  I Agree!

                  "she has been paid back only $287 of the $400,000 she's owed."

                  She gave away $400,000, but because the scammers were caught, it looks like she believes somebody owes her money. A few weeks ago, a couple of "homeless" people got into a fight over who owned the rights to the location where they could "beg" for money. Turns out, neither of them were homeless or indigent. Who do all the people that gave them "donations" talk to so they can get their money back?

                    Avatar
                    Chasing $ Millions.
                    White Shores- California
                    United States
                    Member #136473
                    December 12, 2012
                    6337 Posts
                    Offline

                    I think Edna & other victims of scammers  needs to come to the realization that giving money over to these lowlifes is " in some ways" no different than playing the lottery on a regular basis.

                    Folks have spent far more than $400,000 in their lifetime, and won hardly anything worth crowing about. Edna just happens to have the distinction of giving it over in large chunks, having been told " You HAVE Won!" If you foolish enough to write or wire checks to complete strangers- at least have the remaining residuals of common sense to not show yourself & family to the world & being called Suckers. I guess Edna & family forgot to " read the transcript "- which said " You were greedy, you loved sending money so get over it."

                     * Voice of Reason *   

                     

                    People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                      Avatar
                      Kentucky
                      United States
                      Member #32651
                      February 14, 2006
                      8998 Posts
                      Offline

                      I think Edna & other victims of scammers  needs to come to the realization that giving money over to these lowlifes is " in some ways" no different than playing the lottery on a regular basis.

                      Folks have spent far more than $400,000 in their lifetime, and won hardly anything worth crowing about. Edna just happens to have the distinction of giving it over in large chunks, having been told " You HAVE Won!" If you foolish enough to write or wire checks to complete strangers- at least have the remaining residuals of common sense to not show yourself & family to the world & being called Suckers. I guess Edna & family forgot to " read the transcript "- which said " You were greedy, you loved sending money so get over it."

                      I Agree!, but there is a huge difference in buying lottery tickets because "someone is going to win a huge jackpot and you can't win if you don't play" and winning a huge jackpot from a lottery you never entered.

                      Congratulations, you just won $10 million in a lottery you never entered. To collect your imaginary winnings, just give us you bank account numbers, any pin numbers or passwords and we will deposit the money into your account. 

                      Another option is calling from a throw-away phone and conning the mark into believing you're a really nice person only looking out for their best interests, but need say $500 to get the paperwork started. Once that is established, they could lose every dime they have.

                      My point is simple, it's easy to scam people our of various amounts of money and these con men got lucky and hit the jackpot. Other than getting power of attorney, not much kids, grandchildren, or whomever can do to prevent people from getting scanned.

                        Avatar
                        Chasing $ Millions.
                        White Shores- California
                        United States
                        Member #136473
                        December 12, 2012
                        6337 Posts
                        Offline

                        I Agree!, but there is a huge difference in buying lottery tickets because "someone is going to win a huge jackpot and you can't win if you don't play" and winning a huge jackpot from a lottery you never entered.

                        Congratulations, you just won $10 million in a lottery you never entered. To collect your imaginary winnings, just give us you bank account numbers, any pin numbers or passwords and we will deposit the money into your account. 

                        Another option is calling from a throw-away phone and conning the mark into believing you're a really nice person only looking out for their best interests, but need say $500 to get the paperwork started. Once that is established, they could lose every dime they have.

                        My point is simple, it's easy to scam people our of various amounts of money and these con men got lucky and hit the jackpot. Other than getting power of attorney, not much kids, grandchildren, or whomever can do to prevent people from getting scanned.

                        I Agree!.. but the larger picture l am painting is, in both instances " money is handed over." 
                        l watched a wildebeest migration on tv the other night. What was interesting was that these wildebeest counting into the hundreds of thousands would attempt to cross crocodile infested waters.

                        The crocs were in no hurry, they would let 30-50 swim by & then they would pounce. Some got away from those slashing teeth, others not. My point being: These scammers are like those crocs, waiting for an Edna to come along before they got the better of them. In hindsight, humans who are scammed are like those wildebeest: Humans who lose everything to these guys are looking for untold riches, the wildebeest- grassy pastures which await them across the river..

                         * Voice of Reason *   

                         

                        People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                          Avatar
                          New Member
                          NC
                          United States
                          Member #200303
                          August 16, 2019
                          1 Posts
                          Offline

                          The biggest question is if she is 90 yrs old and already sitting on close to half a million, why did she feel the need at her age to increase her wealth? 🤔 That almost seems like greed and it cost her her life's savings. No one should take advantage of people, especially the elderly. But isn't there a certain level of responsibility on her part?

                            Avatar
                            Kentucky
                            United States
                            Member #32651
                            February 14, 2006
                            8998 Posts
                            Offline

                            The biggest question is if she is 90 yrs old and already sitting on close to half a million, why did she feel the need at her age to increase her wealth? 🤔 That almost seems like greed and it cost her her life's savings. No one should take advantage of people, especially the elderly. But isn't there a certain level of responsibility on her part?

                            Maybe she did it so her kids and grandkids would stop by and see her more. If she has any money left, bet now one or two of them are there every day.