NEW YORK — Seven alleged scammers are accused of stealing more than $1 million from elderly victims with a Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes con, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
They told the victims they’d won, but that they needed to prepay their taxes to obtain their winnings, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Geoffrey Berman said. A Queens woman won $5,000 a week “forever” through the sweepstakes in late February.
Linkloy Bennett, Renneil Williams, Dwayne Boreland, Oshane Roye, Fabian Robinson, Harriann Mitchell and Tiffany Randolph were arrested.
“This was a coldhearted scheme to bilk over $1 million from over 30 victims,” Berman said. “Linkoy Bennet and his co-defendants played the lottery with the law and their luck has run out, as they now face up to 20 years in federal prison.”
The alleged scheme ran from around July 2017 until around September 2018, officials said. Elderly victims sent cash, postal money orders, wire transfers and checks to the defendants.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney Jr. urged possible victims to contact the FBI.
“Crimes like the one our defendants are charged with today not only provide false hope for their prey, but have the potential to inflict severe emotional wounds,” Sweeney said. “An important step in avoiding being victimized is educating the public about the many scams targeting the elderly.”