Adrian Lawrence, a citizen of Jamaica, will be arraigned this afternoon in federal court in Central Islip on a six-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, in connection with a scheme to defraud U.S. citizens. Today’s proceeding will be held before United States Magistrate Judge Anne Y. Shields. Lawrence was detained last month in Panama and extradited to the United States on February 8, 2023, at the request of U.S. authorities.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Daniel B. Brubaker, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Field Office (USPIS), and J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), announced the arrest and charges.
“As alleged, Lawrence and his co-conspirators preyed on dozens of elderly persons, contacting the victims by phone and email, spinning the lie that they had won a sweepstakes prize, then having gained their trust, betrayed them by extracting a purported fee to collect the non-existent winnings,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Today’s arrest demonstrates our Office’s commitment to aggressively investigate and prosecute those individuals who exploit our senior citizens for personal gain.”
Mr. Peace expressed his thanks to the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for their valuable assistance with this case.
“As alleged, Lawrence defrauded dozens of elderly victims of collectively more than $5 million by willfully misleading them to believe they had won a sweepstakes and needed to pay fees to release their winnings. After the victims paid the fees, they came to the unfortunate realization that the prizes they had been promised were non-existent. While elder fraud continues to be a persistent crime problem, today’s action should serve as a reminder the FBI will continue to do all we can to protect the vulnerable from those who seek to take advantage of them for their own greedy purposes,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Brubaker stated: “Postal Inspectors have been in the business of tracking down fugitives for over 200 years. With the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the U.S Attorney’s Office, Adrian Lawrence will face justice in the Eastern District of New York. Lawrence, a Jamaican national, is allegedly the head of a scamming operation that defrauded more than 50 victims out of more than $5 million dollars over the past 10 years. This arrest should serve as a clear message to Lawrence and anyone else involved in lottery or sweepstakes scams, that if you prey upon the American public there will be consequences. No matter how far you run, or how good you think you can hide, justice will always find you. Postal Inspectors remind everyone that you can’t win a lottery or sweepstakes that you didn’t enter, and that you NEVER have to pay any amount to collect a legitimate prize.”
“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration aggressively investigates individuals who impersonate Internal Revenue Service employees or who use the IRS’s tax collecting authority to scam others, especially seniors and other vulnerable populations,” stated Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure those who endeavor to corrupt federal tax administration are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
As set forth in the indictment and court filings, between October 2013 and April 2020, Lawrence, also known as “Mastermind,” and his co-conspirators carried out a scheme via telephone and email to defraud elderly United States citizens (the “Victims”) by falsely telling the Victims that they had won certain sweepstakes contests that were sponsored by Publishers Clearing House, federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, and other entities. Lawrence also told the Victims that in order to facilitate the release of their sweepstakes prizes, the Victims first needed to wire-transfer money to various bank accounts that he had his co-conspirators established at bank branches in the United States, and to mail checks and cash to Lawrence’s co-conspirators throughout the United States, in order to pay for purported fees. In reality, Lawrence knew that the Victims owed no fees and had won no sweepstakes prizes. Lawrence used a variety of aliases, email addresses and phone numbers to perpetrate the scheme. At least 50 victims, whose average age was 81-years-old, sent more than $5.6 million to Lawrence and his co-conspirators.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and Lawrence is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 20 years in prison.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Caffarone is in charge of the prosecution.
ADRIAN LAWRENCE (also known as “Mastermind”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-159 (JMA)
originally published at HUMAN RIGHTS - USA DAILY NEWS 24