Crook is sentenced to nine years in federal prison
By Kate Northrop
On Wednesday, a scammer who stole almost $1 million from one single victim in a lottery scheme was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison.
Leonard Luton, a Jamaican national living in Brooklyn, New York, scammed an elderly woman from Estes Park, Colorado of more than $970,000, according to prosecutors.
Court documents show that Luton and another Jamaican national worked together in a scam to convince the woman that she won $2.8 million and a Mercedes Benz in a lottery. The classic scheme required that she pay thousands of dollars upfront in fake fees in order to receive those fictional winnings.
According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, the conmen had the woman mail packages of cash and cashier's checks, in addition to six iPhones, to the addresses of Luton's friends.
The scammers had even visited the woman's home in Estes Park and robbed her by another way of deception. The first instance occurred in October 2018, where a co-conspirator had shown up to her doorstep at 1:30 am disguised as an FBI agent. Showing her a fake FBI badge, he ordered her to hand over $65,000 in cash.
Luton himself took a second trip to her house in January 2019 in a bid to steal even more, but he was arrested at the scene. Ironically, he was in possession of one of the iPhones given to him by the victim.
At that point, she had already been robbed of more than $970,000.
"Lottery scams are just one way that fraudsters prey on the elderly and vulnerable victims," Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch said. "Together with our law enforcement partners, we are working to protect the elderly and to make scammers like Luton face justice."
In February 2020, Luton was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and eight counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud. In addition to his sentencing by United States District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to 108 months in federal prison, the Court entered an order of forfeiture of $484,123.16 and imposed a $900 special assessment fee.
"This sentence is a significant step toward justice for the elderly victim of Mr. Luton's self-serving greed and deception," FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider stated. "The FBI is committed to combating those who prey on vulnerable members of our community. The FBI extends its appreciation to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, Estes Park Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their collaboration on this investigation."
In addition to his nine-year sentence in federal prison, Luton will undergo 3 years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $881,47.41 in restitution in his role in the lottery scheme.
This lottery scam is similar to the case in which another individual from a group of Jamaican scam artists was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for conning nearly $1.2 million from one single elderly man. The fraudster reportedly used aliases such as "Damian Jackson," "Jesse Jackson," and "Huckleberry Finn" to deceive the victim.