Over half a million dollars later, fraudsters are finally caught
By Kate Northrop
Two lottery scammers who defrauded elderly victims of $700,000 will be spending time behind bars in federal prison, Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus announced.
Jason Wedderburn, 41, and Kayan Kitson, 38, were each sentenced to two to three years in federal prison along with 3 years of federal supervised release after netting over half a million dollars from senior citizens in several states including Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The United States Postal Inspection Service launched an investigation in May 2018, which revealed that the two Jamaican nationals worked together with co-conspirators in both Jamaica and the United States to defraud unsuspecting victims in a lottery scam.
Court proceedings detailed how Wedderburn operated at least four bank accounts that housed the funds stolen from victims, whereas Kitson opened at least one for the same reason. Once funds entered those accounts, scammers in the fraud ring would withdraw cash or transfer the money to other accounts controlled by the group.
In classic lottery scam fashion, the fraudsters would contact individuals claiming that they won a huge lottery prize but would have to pay pre-taxes or fees to collect the nonexistent winnings. Victims who fell prey to the trap reportedly sent over tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time to the scammers who portrayed themselves as lottery officials.
Just one victim from Massachusetts netted the criminals nearly half of the total stolen funds, transferring a mindboggling $325,000 to the fraudsters. In total, they defrauded individuals of over $700,000.
As expected, the victims would not get any of the lottery winnings they were promised. However, Wedderburn and Kitson were arrested in Florida in August 2020 and have been detained since.
In July, they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Providence.
U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy sentenced Wedderburn to 36 months in federal prison, while Kitson was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison on Oct. 12. Both will also undergo 3 years of federal supervised release.
In August, another Jamaican scammer was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison after defrauding one single elderly woman of nearly $1 million.
If you are contacted by someone claiming that you have won a big lottery prize, know that it is impossible to win a lottery or contest that you never entered, nor will a true winner ever be asked to pay a sum of money prior to receiving a prize.
If you received a message, another way to figure out if you're being scammed is to take a close look at the note for misspelled words, inaccurate logos, or poor grammar. Website USA Mega has a lottery scams page illustrating several actual scam letters that have circulated.