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Friday, June 26, 2015

First Jamaican Man Extradited to United States in Connection with International Lottery Scheme Sentenced to Prison



A Jamaican man was sentenced today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after he pleaded guilty to his role in an international lottery scheme against elderly victims in the United States.

Damion Bryan Barrett, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Zloch of the Southern District of Florida to serve 46 months in prison and five years of supervised release.  Barrett was also ordered to pay $94,456 in restitution.

Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 9, 2012, and was arrested in Jan. 2015 in Jamaica based on the United States’ request that he be extradited to this country.  Barrett was extradited to the United States on Feb. 12 and was the first Jamaican to be extradited to the United States based on charges that he committed fraud as part of an international lottery scheme.

On April 10, Barrett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  The prosecution is part of the United States’ ongoing crackdown on fraudulent international lottery schemes.

“This sentence sends a very strong message that scammers operating in foreign countries will be held accountable for the laws they break in the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Justice Department is committed to bringing these international fraudsters to justice.”

“This case is an excellent example of coordination between domestic and international law enforcement agencies to hold those who facilitate and participate in fraudulent schemes accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.  “We will continue to foster this cooperation in order to crackdown on international lottery fraud so that members of our community are protected and are not deprived of their hard earned savings.”

As part of his guilty plea, Barrett acknowledged that had the case gone to trial, the United States would have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that from 2008 through 2012, he was a member of a conspiracy in which elderly victims were informed that they had won a large amount of money in a lottery and were induced to pay bogus fees in advance of receiving their purported lottery winnings.  Barrett also admitted that the United States would have proved that he knew the claims of lottery winnings were completely fabricated and that he and his co-conspirators kept the victims’ money for their own benefit without paying any lottery winnings.  Barrett also admitted that the United States would have proved that in an effort to convince the victims that the lottery winnings were real, the conspirators sent the victims communications discussing their purported lottery winnings, which falsely claimed to be from a genuine sweepstakes company and from federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve.  In fact, these communications were not from a genuine sweepstakes company or from agencies of the United States.       

Barrett’s co-defendant, Oneike Barnett, 29, pleaded guilty on Feb. 28, 2014, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  On April 29, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Zloch sentenced Barnett to serve 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release, and to pay $94,456 in restitution for his role in this case.   

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer and U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kathryn Drenning of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani of the Southern District of Florida.

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