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$25M lottery scam aimed at elderly busted

Jul 22, 2009, 6:51 pm

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Scam Alert

The feds on Tuesday dismantled an Israeli boiler-room operation that conned elderly U.S. victims out of $25 million by telling them they'd won a sweepstakes lottery.

A dozen members of the international telemarketing ring were named in a three-count fraud indictment handed up yesterday in Manhattan Federal Court.

Prosecutors say ring members bought more than 185,000 names from U.S.-based brokers to find victims to dupe into turning over hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to claim the prize.

"Despite sending substantial amounts of money to Israel, none of the victims received any money," the indictment says.

The scam operated between 2005 and 2009, and was taken down with the help of a law enforcement agent posing as a would-be sweepstakes winner.

Affluent victims were referred to "shooters" who, claiming to be lawyers, told them they'd have to turn over thousands of dollars as payment for taxes on the award.

Victims sent cashier's checks to a mail-forwarding business in Rockland County, which shipped the checks to Cyprus, officials said.

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