Scammers go through greater lengths to deceive victims
By Kate Northrop
Two Maryland brothers have been indicted after running a three-year scheme that involved false promises of lottery winnings and a supposedly exploding metal briefcase.
The United States Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that a federal grand jury charged brothers Dwayne and Wayne Henry, 32 and 34, respectively, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme that offers a false promise of lottery winnings to victims.
It's the usual ploy that dupes victims into believing they've won a lottery prize or sweepstakes and are told to send payment in advance for taxes and other fees before they are entitled to receive their (nonexistent) winnings.
However, it's not every day that a metal briefcase supposedly containing millions in cash shows up on a victim's doorstep.
Between October 2020 and December 2023, The Henry's and their co-conspirators would contact targets by mail and over the phone to convince them that they won millions of dollars, but they would not receive the prize until they sent a required payment in advance. Victims would send them money via wire transfer, gift card, cash, and other payment methods, the United States Attorney's Office said in a press release.
Not only that, but the fraudsters would send physical packages and suitcases purportedly containing the victims' winnings to targets across the United States using a false address and a fictitious name. One such name was "Anthony Henry."
Wayne would receive numerous packages containing the victim's money addressed to this "Anthony Henry" character.
He had also opened two bank accounts to house cash deposits and facilitate peer-to-peer transfers. Dwayne and Wayne would also use the accounts to send money to and from each other.
Most of the ATM cash withdrawals from one of the bank accounts also took place outside the United States.
In one instance, the brothers sent a victim, anonymous "J.S.," a package that contained checks made payable to J.S. in the amount of $150 million, cell phones, and typewritten notes. One note explained that J.S. would have to contact a phone number "to get in touch... about paying you the 150 million dollars."
Another victim the District of Maryland names in their press release is "J.P.," who these scammers went through even greater lengths and lies to fool.
In early 2023, Wayne, Dwayne, and their team of co-conspirators contacted J.P. and tricked them into believing they had won $5.5 million in the lottery. J.P. received a metal briefcase, which the scammers said contained a partial payment of the winnings.
In order to receive a code to unlock the briefcase, J.P. had to send the fraudsters the "required taxes and fees," and that if they also tried to open the briefcase by force without first receiving the code, an exploding ink pack would destroy the money inside the briefcase.
The indictment says that the victims sent more than $3.5 million to the scammers and their conspirators as a result of the scheme.
If convicted, Wayne and Dwayne face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud conspiracy. An initial appearance has not been scheduled.