Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that STANLEY PIERRE, 35, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his participation in lottery and romance scams that defrauded primarily elderly victims across the country of millions of dollars.
According to the evidence presented during a trial in this matter, in a lottery scam, scammers notify victims by telephone, through online communications, or by mail, that they have won the lottery. The victims are then told that in order to collect the prize they must pay fees for things like taxes, shipping and processing. Often, once a victim sends a small amount of money, a scammer will ask for larger sums of money with a promise of more winnings. The victims never receive winnings. In a romance scam, scammers take advantage of people looking for companionship by pretending to be prospective companions. Scammers typically create fake online profiles on dating websites that include false personal details such as the death of a spouse, or military service, to lure victims to trust them. Once they have gained the trust of victims, scammers will ask victims for money, falsely claiming to need money for medical or business emergencies, for travel to see the victim, or other purposes.
Between approximately August 2015 and March 2020, Farouq Fasasi, Rodney Thomas, Jr. and others used lottery scams, romance scams and other fraudulent means to induce elderly victims to provide them with money, gifts and personal details. Victims sent cash, money orders or checks through the mail to various addresses in Connecticut, and also wired or deposited money into bank accounts in Connecticut controlled by conspiracy members and their associates.
Fasasi, Thomas, and other co-conspirators lived together for a time at a residence on Sherman Avenue in New Haven, where many packages containing cash, checks and money orders from victims were delivered.
Pierre used his personal bank accounts and also established business bank accounts to launder money obtained from fraud victims. Some victims transferred money directly into these bank accounts, and checks that were mailed to the Sherman Avenue residence were also deposited into the accounts. For example, in November 2018, $78,373 was deposited into one of Pierre’s business accounts and approximately $58,000 was withdrawn. In December 2018, approximately $91,000 was deposited and more than $116,000 was withdrawn.
Pierre also recruited others to lauder proceeds from the scheme.
The investigation revealed that these scams defrauded more than 200 victims across the U.S. of more than $5 million. Many of the victims were elderly and vulnerable, and some victims lost their life savings. One Connecticut victim lost more than $1 million.
On January 27, 2022, Pierre pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.
On February 15, 2022, Fasasi, Thomas and Ralph Pierre were found guilty of multiple charges stemming from this scheme. On June 28, 2022, Ralph Pierre was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment. Fasasi and Thomas await sentencing.
Two other individuals have been charged and convicted of offenses stemming from their participation in this scheme.
Pierre, who is released on a $100,000 bond, is required to report to prison on September 21.
The Justice Department has established a National Elder Fraud Hotline to provide services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud. The Hotline is staffed by experienced case managers who can provide personalized support to callers. Case managers assist callers with reporting the suspected fraud to relevant agencies and by providing resources and referrals to other appropriate services as needed. When applicable, case managers will complete a complaint form with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for Internet-facilitated crimes and submit a consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the caller. The Hotline’s toll free number is 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311). For more information, please visit. https://ovc.ojp.gov/program/stop-elder-fraud/providing-help-restoring-hope.
This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Army-CID, and New Haven Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather L. Cherry and Stephanie T. Levick.