Mississippi couple indicted in sweepstakes scam. One victim defrauded more than $200,000.
Published 2:25 pm Friday, February 4, 2022
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Troy Smith, age 27, and Michelle Greenwood, age 36, of Mississippi, were indicted by a federal grand jury in December 2021 on eighteen counts of conspiracy, wire fraud mail fraud, and money laundering conspiracy for receiving funds from sweepstakes scam victims and transferring a portion of those funds to coconspirators located in Jamaica. This indictment was unsealed by Court order on February 2, 2022.
According to United States Attorney John C. Gurganus, the indictment alleges that between August 2016 and June 2018, the defendants and other unindicted coconspirators received consumer fraud-induced MoneyGram, Western Union, and Ria money transfers, bank wires and deposits, checks, and cash from victims across the United States totaling more than $300,000.
Their victims included a 51-year-old widow residing in Columbia County, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. In October 2016, an unidentified fraudster using a fictitious name and posing as an official of a sweepstakes organization falsely told Victim 1 that she had won a multi-million-dollar cash prize and automobile. This fraudster also told Victim 1 that she had to prepay taxes, and later various other fees and expenses, in order to receive her cash prize and automobile. Victim 1 was directed to send money in the form of money transfers, bank wires, and cash mailings payable to the defendants in their own names and in various aliases. Victim 1 was told that the defendants were also officials of the sweepstakes organization. She ended up sending about $123,000 in the form of Western Union, MoneyGram, and Ria money transfers to the defendants and coconspirators, making about $90,000 in cash deposits into their accounts, depositing about $14,000 in the form of bank wire transfers, and mailing about $2,000 in cash and money orders.
Smith and Greenwood received these funds from Victim 1 and others and then sent a portion of these fraud-induced funds to various coconspirators in Jamaica. From October 2016 until about June 2018, the defendants sent around 57 Western Union money transfers totaling about $50,000 to different recipients in Jamaica. Smith and Greenwood commonly received money using certain names, including their own real names, and then sent money to Jamaica under different names and in smaller dollar increments.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ravi Romel Sharma is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the maximum penalty under federal law for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud is 20 years’ imprisonment. This charge may also carry a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release following imprisonment. The maximum penalties under federal law for wire fraud and mail fraud are likewise 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release following imprisonment. The maximum penalty under federal law for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments is 20 years’ imprisonment. This charge may also carry a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the amount of the property, money, or monetary instrument involved in the transaction, as well as a term of supervised release following imprisonment. A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.