LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles man was arrested today on federal fraud charges for participating in a lottery scam that allegedly targeted elderly victims with promises of cash prizes and cars – as long as they paid taxes and fees.
Carl Dean Bullock, 65, was arrested at his residence this morning without incident by inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service. Bullock is expected to be arraigned on a 20-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court.
A federal grand jury on June 3 returned an indictment that charges Bullock with 13 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Bullock allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud mostly elderly victims in the United States. Using false promises that the victims had won large lottery or sweepstakes prizes, members of the scheme fraudulently told victims that, in order to obtain their “winnings,” they would need to send money to pay for taxes, fees and other expenses. Hoping to collect the winnings, victims sent money to members of the scheme via wire transfer, money orders and cash. The money was sent through the United States mail, as well as through the Western Union and MoneyGram systems.
Bullock allegedly received some of the fraudulently obtained money, and then sent a portion of it to his co-schemers, most of whom were in Jamaica.
The investigation, so far, has uncovered 25 victims – one of whom was 88 years old – who sent nearly $200,000 to obtain their non-existent prizes.
“Fraud schemes like the one charged in this indictment, which promise large rewards in exchange for ‘fees’ and ‘taxes,’ harm vulnerable members of our communities and potentially jeopardize the victims’ ability to make ends meet in retirement,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious because he assisted criminals outside of the United States target elderly victims here.”
“Foreign lottery and sweepstakes fraud cost Americans millions every year,” stated Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. “When one family member is harmed, the impact can be felt by all. Losses can be monumental, and entire fortunes, inheritances and retirement security can be wiped-out. This arrest demonstrates the commitment of Postal Inspectors to protect our seniors from these unscrupulous scam artists.”
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The wire fraud and mail fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.
The investigation in this case is being conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which received substantial assistance from the Glendale Police Department.
LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles man has pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and wire fraud charges for his role in a lottery scam that targeted elderly victims with false promises of large cash prizes and cars that would be delivered when victims paid taxes, fees or insurance.
Carl Dean Bullock, 65, entered his guilty pleas to the two felony counts on Monday before United States District George H. Wu.
According to a plea agreement filed in the case, the lottery scam defrauded victims who were falsely told they had won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes or other lottery prizes, but they needed to pay some sort of fee or tax to collect the winnings.
“This defendant’s fraud scheme targeted elderly victims with false promises of cars and cash prizes,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “All those who receive telephone calls from people promising prizes in exchange for money must be very wary and should take steps to confirm the reliability of the source of the call prior to sending anything.”
In his plea agreement, Bullock admitted participating in a lottery scam in which he and other members of the scheme collected money via Western Union and MoneyGram wire transfers, money orders sent through the U.S. Mail and direct cash payments. Bullock personally received at least $45,000, some of which he shared with his co-schemers, most of whom were in Jamaica.
Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss stated, “This investigation was an excellent example of a partnership between local and federal law enforcement agencies, working together to ensure that the nation’s mail system is not used as a tool for fraud. I fully commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all of the law enforcement agencies involved, which resulted in bringing this individual to justice.”
Judge Wu is scheduled to sentence Bullock on April 17. The wire fraud and mail fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The investigation in this case is being conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which received substantial assistance from the Glendale Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Michael G. Freedman of the General Crimes section.