Former FBI Director Helps To Bring Down Phone ScammerWednesday February 13th 2019
A lottery scammer has been sentenced to almost six years in prison after details came to light about the extreme lengths he went to in his efforts to extract money from his victims. However, one of his targets was former FBI director William Webster, who turned the tables on the scammer to find out information about him and help to bring him to justice.
How The Mega Millions Scam Worked
The scammer, later revealed to be Keniel Thomas from Jamaica, had set up a scheme where he would phone people in America and say that he was a manager from Mega Millions. He told Webster that he had won $72 million and a new Mercedes Benz in the lottery, but added that he would have to pay $50,000 in taxes and fees upfront to get his money.
Thomas revealed on the call that he had done his research on Washington man Webster, saying: “You’re a great man. You was a judge, you was an attorney, you was a basketball player, you were in the U.S. Navy, homeland security. I know everything about you. I even seen your photograph, and I seen your precious wife.”
Thomas’ plan had worked in the past. One California man sent $85,000 to the scammers in exchange for certified checks, which all ended up bouncing. However, Thomas had met his match in Webster, who is the only person to have ever been director of both the FBI and the CIA, and knew just how to take down the scammer.
How Webster Turned The Tables
Webster called Thomas back the next day with the FBI listening in, and was able to obtain the man’s real name and email address. Webster said it would take him a few weeks to come up with the money, and Thomas asked if he could pay a part of it, about $20,000, in the meantime.
The phone conversation between the two is part of the court record which has been used in Thomas’ case. It was just one of several calls that Thomas made to Webster or his wife Lynda during a period of several months in 2014. They asked him to stop but he kept phoning and also sent more than 20 emails. He had previously called himself David Morgan, but Webster noticed that he had an email address of email@example.com.
In one of the calls, Thomas promised to put a bullet ‘straight to the head" of Lynda. He also said to her that he knew no one was at her home the previous night. In another call, he said: "So easy that we go set your house ablaze, how is that? ... You can be taken care of that easy."
Thomas was eventually charged with attempted extortion in 2014, but was not arrested until late 2017 after he landed in New York on a flight from Jamaica. He pleaded guilty in October and faced 33 to 41 months in prison. Now, a U.S. District Judge has added two and a half years to his sentence, meaning that he will serve nearly six years.
Webster, now 94, was in the courtroom with his wife, and told the judge: “We truly hope that word has spread into the criminal community of scammers that our Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies are clamping down on such predatory behaviors."
According to FBI documents, Thomas was able to collect at least $300,000 from about three dozen victims. Agents were able to link the targets together and track payments that had been made to Thomas or members of his family. Franz Jobson, Thomas' attorney, has said that he is considering an appeal.
Clamping Down On Scams
Lottery scams have become more and more prevalent in recent years, but you should remember that it is not possible to win a prize for any draw or competition that you have not entered. You will never be selected at random and will never have to pay fees or taxes upfront before a prize can be paid out.
Scams can come in a variety of different forms, such as the telephone fraud that Thomas carried out or via other platforms such as social media. Go to the Lottery Scams page for more information, and get in touch with your local lottery authorities if you think you have been targeted.Latest News