Sun | Mar 18, 2018

J'can woman sentenced to US prison for lottery scamming, impersonating FBI agent

Published:Wednesday | September 28, 2016 | 6:11 PM

Thirty-year-old Jamaican, Vania Lee Allen has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for her role in the lottery scam.

Allen must pay US$117,000 in restitution and is to undergo three years of supervised release after completing her prison term.

On June 22, she pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Georgia to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and false impersonation of a United States employee.

Prosecutors had led evidence that Allen pretended to be a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent in seeking to scam an American man she had tricked into believing he had won the lottery.

"Lottery fraud scams based in Jamaica targeting Americans typically need help from at least one co-conspirator in the United States," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. 

IN PHOTO: Vania Lee Allen

Impersonating FBI agent
"Impersonating an FBI agent to convince an innocent victim that this so-called international lottery is real is deceitful, pure and simple.  The Justice Department will actively pursue and charge those who participate in such criminal activity," he said.

As part of her guilty plea, Allen acknowledged that she and a co-conspirator in Jamaica sought to unlawfully enrich themselves through a fraudulent lottery scheme targeting an elderly resident of Evans, Georgia.

An indictment filed on March 3 said Allen’s co-conspirator falsely informed the victim that he had won money in a lottery and instructed the victim to make payments to various people in order to collect the purported lottery winnings. 

Plea agreement
As part of her plea agreement, Allen acknowledged that in order to induce the victim to continue to make payments as directed by her co-conspirator, she travelled from Jamaica to the United States to meet with the victim personally. 

Allen also acknowledged that when she met the victim, she falsely portrayed herself as an FBI agent, provided the victim with a cell phone, and directed him to speak with the person on the line, who was her co-conspirator in Jamaica.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries.