A Maryland man has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison following a scheme that defrauded more than 100 elderly people.
A federal jury convicted Keno Romario Brown, 26, of Hyattsville, in March 2020 of mail and wire fraud over a lottery scheme. The judge ordered Brown to pay $775,225 in restitution, as well.
In what prosecutors called a “heartless scheme,” Brown and two co-conspirators started contacting victims in April 2013 and identified themselves as representatives of a company.
Brown told the victims that they won a lottery or sweepstakes sponsored by the company, but in order to collect the prize, the victims had to pay fees and taxes in advance.
Brown and his accomplices instructed the victims on how to send the money, either electronically or through the mail, to “runners” who received the money and gave the funds to Brown and his conspirators.
Investigators also discovered that Brown used physical abuse to control at least one of these runners, a U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland news release said.
Court documents also said that Brown and a co-conspirator hid the money using debit cards that bore the personal information of elderly individuals, which was obtained without their knowledge and consent. Brown and the other conspirator then deposited the proceeds in the account.
“Brown callously preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our communities,” FBI Special Agent Timothy Thibault said in a statement.
Brown’s prison sentenced will be followed by three years of supervised release.
“This sentence demonstrates that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue and hold accountable those who commit the unconscionable crime of elder fraud,” Thibault said.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner said the Justice Department is committed to bringing those who prey upon the elderly to justice. He asked that those who believe they may be a victim of a fraud or a scam to call the department’s Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).