Costa Rica News – I hope each and everyone of the people that is involved in a scam like this rots in hell.
A dual citizen of the United States and Costa Rica will serve nine years in prison for his role in an international sweepstakes fraud scheme that plundered $1.9 million from hundreds of older Americans, including multiple victims in the mountains.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that Geoffrey Alexander Ramer, 36, formerly of Falls Church, Virginia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina. Ramer also must pay $2.8 million in restitution and forfeit $1.9 million, according to the press release.
Ramer pleaded guilty Sept. 15, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of international money laundering in connection with the telemarketing fraud scheme.
Documents in the case show that from 2008-December 2013, Ramer owned and operated call centers in Costa Rica. He and his co-conspirators called U.S. residents, many of them elderly, and told them they had won a substantial cash prize in a sweepstakes. But to receive their prize money, the victims had to send money to Costa Rica for a purported “refundable insurance fee,” according to the press release.
In his plea, Ramer admitted that once they got a victim’s money, the co-conspirators would contact them and falsely inform them that the prize amount had increased, and they needed to send more money for more fees.
They would “continue these attempts to collect additional money until the victims went broke or discovered the fraud,” the press release states.
Ramer also admitted that they used phone technology that mislead victims by displaying a Washington, D.C., area code to conceal that they were actually calling from Costa Rica. At times they would also falsely claim to be from a U.S. federal agency.
The co-conspirators kept the victims’ money and never provided any winnings. They used the funds to continue the call centers’ operation and for their personal benefit, Ramer admitted.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina, made the sentencing announcement.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the case. Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick M. Donley and Trial Attorney William H. Bowne of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted.
By John Boyle From Citizen Times, First Sentence Added by Dan Stevens