Lottery Scammer Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison

Wednesday April 8th 2015

A Florida resident who helped steal nearly $400,000 from over 20 elderly victims as part of a lottery scam has been sentenced to almost six years in federal prison. Mikhail Gorbachev George Williams, a Jamaican citizen, was convicted on Monday after pleading guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.

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Williams, a Jamaican citizen, handled money taken from senior citizens who had been told that they won lottery or sweepstake prizes. Once the victims had handed over the cash, Williams then forwarded the money to his co-conspirators in Jamaica.

This wasn’t the first time that Williams has run into trouble. In 2010, he was warned by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, who told him that money he was receiving was from a lottery scam, and that if he continued to take part in the ruse, he would be prosecuted. Williams argued for leniency in his current trial, stating that he didn’t know that his victims were elderly and that he sent most of the money to Jamaica, keeping the rest for himself.

The district judge, Beth Bloom, refuted his statements, saying that Williams deserved a “meaningful sentence” that would put others off from operating lottery scams. In addition to paying back a total of $87,519 to his victims, Williams will serve five years and 11 months in prison, after which he will face deportation proceedings.

Lottery scammers prey on the surge of emotions commonly associated with winning large sums of money, hoping that their victims will be too overwhelmed by the news to see the deception for what it really is. It’s important to remember that no legitimate lottery will ever contact you with news about a huge windfall on a draw game - you need to get in touch with them if you think that you have a winning ticket or scratchcard. No legitimate lottery will make you pay fees or taxes in order to receive your winnings; instead, you’ll be responsible for handling taxes yourself after the money is paid to you. Visit the Scams page to learn more about how to defend yourself against fraud.

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