Former American cop jailed for Jamaican lottery scam
NORTH CAROLINA, U.S. – Dominic Hugh Smith, a former police officer and security agent, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to his role in a Jamaican-based fraudulent lottery scam that targeted mostly elderly victims in the United States.
Smith, a native of Georgia, was sentenced by US District Court Judge Robert J Conrad Jr of the Western District of North Carolina to serve 27 months behind bars and another year of supervised release. The 27-year-old was also ordered to pay restitution to the tune of US$724,408.79.
Last June, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the conduct of telemarketing.
Prior to the guilty plea, he had been employed as a Transportation Security Administration agent as well as an Atlanta Police Department police officer.
The prosecution is part of the effort by the Department of Justice (DOJ), in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement, to combat lottery fraud schemes from Jamaica preying on American citizens.
Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries, according to the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
As part of his guilty plea, Smith acknowledged that, had the case gone to trial, the government would have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that from December 2010 through at least April 2012, he was a member of a conspiracy in which elderly victims were informed by telephone that they had won a large amount of money and prizes in a lottery and were induced to pay bogus fees in advance of receiving their purported lottery winnings.
Innocent victims sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Smith in the United States.
Smith also acknowledged that the government would have proved that he knew there was no lottery, and that he, along with his co-conspirators, kept the victims’ money for their own benefit.
“International lottery fraud aimed at stealing from elderly victims cannot, and will not, be tolerated by the Department of Justice,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
“We will seek to hold accountable those who participate in illegal lottery schemes, including those in the United States who facilitate schemes directed from abroad as well as those who operate from foreign countries.”
US Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina said: “As these types of financial scams continue to grow in scope and sophistication, we will utilize all resources to prosecute and deter such criminal activity.
“Now more than ever, the public needs to be mindful of these schemes to avoid falling prey to them. Greedy criminals looking to line their pockets with money stolen from our nation’s seniors will ultimately face American justice.”