Scam tactics revealed - US authorities detail case against Jamaicans
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
PROSECUTORS IN THE United States (US) have released new details about the lottery scam case involving popular Jamaican disc jockey ZJ Wah Wa, revealing how one of his co-accused reportedly got an 83-year-old widow to write him six cheques for US$157,000 in the hopes of collecting a US$19 million jackpot.
Officials in the state of North Dakota say the details were contained in a plea agreement signed by the accused scammer, identified in court documents as Shannon O'Connor.
When the woman indicated that she had no more money, prosecutors say she was told to take out a loan on her life insurance policy and provide the scammer with her credit card and personal identification number, and she complied with the requests.
Prosecutor say O'Connor's plea agreement also showed that another victim, identified as a 92-year-old man from Charleston, South Carolina, mailed him a US$80,000 cashier's cheque in May 2012.
According to North Dakota officials, O'Connor was one of three co-accused in Wah Wa's case who have signed plea agreements. The others are James Simpson and Mikael Gillette, who are now facing a maximum prison term of 40 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.
Prosecutors also charged that Gillette completed numerous wire transfers of money from victims in the US to co-conspirators in Jamaica while Simpson allegedly opened individual bank accounts, deposited and transferred funds, and lied to bank officials about the origin and intended use of the money.
PLED NOT GUILTY
Wah Wa, whose given name is Deon-Ville O'Hara, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.
If convicted, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years per count, a possible fine, mandatory restitution, and possible forfeiture of property.
The four were among 26 persons indicted in May by the US Attorneys Office for the state of North Dakota for allegedly participating in an international fraudulent lottery/sweepstakes scheme.