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J'can pleads guilty to lottery scam charges in US

Published:Saturday | November 2, 2013 | 6:24 PM

A Jamaica man said to be a major player in the deadly lottery scam has pleaded guilty in the United States (US).



The US Department of Justice said Oneike Mickhale Barnett pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of wire fraud in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida.



This comes nearly three months after Barnett was arrested in Florida after getting off a flight from Jamaica.



US authorities says as part of his guilty plea, Barnett acknowledged that from 2008 to 2012 he was part of a conspiracy that fraudulently induced elderly victims in the US to send him and his co-conspirators thousands of dollars to cover fees for lottery prizes they had not won.



The US Postal Inspection Service reports that Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries and sweepstakes.



Senior US law enforcement officials have again warned that they will be unrelenting in pursuing those bent on defrauding Americans.



The warnings by Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery and US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wilfredo Ferrer come in the wake of Barnett’s conviction.



Ferrer said the number of international lottery scams targeting Americans show that fraudsters have no bounds, buts adds that his office will continue to vigorously combat fraud and will pursue and prosecute fraudsters using all legal means.



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