Jamaican sentenced in international lottery scheme


SENTENCED: Damion Bryan Barrett

FLORIDA, United States, Monday June 29, 2015 – The first Jamaican extradited to the United States to be prosecuted for his role in an international lottery scheme targeting elderly victims has been sentenced to almost four years in prison.

And the Justice Department is putting other scammers who operate in foreign countries on notice that they won’t get away either.

Damion Bryan Barrett, 28, was sentenced by US District Court Judge William Zloch of the Southern District of Florida to 46 months in prison and five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay US$94,456 in restitution.

Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on August 9, 2012, and was arrested in January this year in Jamaica based on a US request that he be extradited to the country. He was extradited to the United States on February 12 and was the first Jamaican to be extradited to the US based on charges that he committed fraud as part of an international lottery scheme.

Barrett pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on April 10.

The prosecution is part of the United States’ ongoing crackdown on fraudulent international lottery schemes.

“This sentence sends a very strong message that scammers operating in foreign countries will be held accountable for the laws they break in the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Justice Department is committed to bringing these international fraudsters to justice.”

US Attorney Wifredo Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida said the case was an excellent example of coordination between domestic and international law enforcement agencies to hold those who facilitate and participate in fraudulent schemes accountable.

“We will continue to foster this cooperation in order to crackdown on international lottery fraud so that members of our community are protected and are not deprived of their hard earned savings,” Ferrer said.

From 2008 through 2012, Barrett was a part of a conspiracy in which elderly victims were informed that they had won a large amount of money in a lottery and were induced to pay bogus fees in advance of receiving their purported lottery winnings.

In an effort to convince the victims that the lottery winnings were real, the conspirators sent the victims communications discussing their purported lottery winnings, which falsely claimed to be from a genuine sweepstakes company and from federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve.

Barrett admitted that he knew the claims of lottery winnings were completely fabricated and that he and his co-conspirators kept the victims’ money for their own benefit without paying any lottery winnings.

His co-defendant, Oneike Barnett, 29, pleaded guilty on February 28, 2014, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. On April 29, 2014, US District Court Judge Zloch sentenced that Barnett to serve 60 months in prison and five years of supervised release, and to pay US$94,456 in restitution for his role in the scheme.

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