United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced Tuesday that ten people, most of them from Little River, have been charged in a complaint accusing a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
The complaint, unsealed Tuesday after the arrests of nine of the defendants, says that the scam targeted elderly victims around the country, notifying them that they had won a lottery or sweepstakes, but that they needed to pay fees in advance in order to receive their winnings, according to the SC Attorney General's Office.
The complaint details that more than 200 people were victimized and paid more than $1 million to receive their non-existent lottery prizes.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
The defendants and their last known city of residence are:
Wayne Duffus, 28, Little River
Rajah Robinson, 28, Little River
Shadiki Brown, Little River
Lorenzo Samuels, 27, Riverdale
Davion Bellamy, 25, Conway
LeGrant Allen, 29, Little River
Damion McLeish, 33, North Myrtle Beach
Ann Marie Yapp, 43, North Myrtle Beach
Denisha Robinson, 26, Little River
Quashinda Godbolt, 36, Conway
Lorenzo Samuels was arrested Tuesday morning in Georgia. The other eight arrestees were expected to appear in a Florence courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
The case was investigated by Special Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
According to the Coastal Carolina Better Business Bureau (BBB) President and CEO Kathy Graham, these types of scams happen more often than you think.
The Coastal Carolina Better Business Bureau covers 15 counties in North and South Carolina and employees receive around 10-15 calls per day from people who have been scammed.
Graham said the most important thing people can do is report it, because experts can't do anything to help you out if you don't.
She also said to pay close attention to letters in the mail that say you've won the lottery. Check the envelope to see if it's coming from a place outside of the country, then be wary.
Graham said it's against the law to win a lottery from another country.
Also, if you haven't entered the lottery, then a letter claiming that you have should not be taken seriously.
If you have questions about a lottery or sweepstakes letter, the BBB will gladly help you out and answer any questions you may have.
To have your questions answered click here.
BBB Phone: (843) 488-2227