Costa Rica Sweepstakes Scammers Sentenced in Federal court
On December 14, 2006 the three people in the US were sentenced to federal prison for running sweepstakes fraud schemes in Costa Rica that ripped off elderly US consumers. One Costa Rica room running this fraud took in nearly $10 million. One Defendant was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. Here is the DOJ press release.
How the fraud worked
US consumers received calls telling victims that they had won a large prize from a sweepstakes. These calls used “spoofed” caller ID’s to make it look like they were coming from area code 202 (Washington DC). They pretended to be calling from government agencies informing victims of their winnings. (I know that some of these sweepstakes frauds were impersonating real people at the Federal Trade Commission, including me). Victims were told to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram to pay a “refundable insurance fee.” Those who paid were then called again, told that their winnings had increased, and that they needed to send additional money. Of course no one had actually won anything.
This is, of course, very similar to sweepstakes frauds coming from Jamaica. See my separate in depth article on Jamaican sweepstakes fraud.