ESTES PARK, Colo. — A man who stole more than $970,000 from an elderly Estes Park woman through a lottery scam will spend nine years in federal prison and was ordered to pay more than $888,000 in restitution, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
“Lottery scams are just one way that fraudsters prey on the elderly and vulnerable victims,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Matt Kirsch. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we are working to protect the elderly and to make scammers like (Leonard) Luton face justice.”
>The video above is about common internet scams to watch for.
According to court documents, Leonard Luto, a Jamaican national who lived in New York, and another Jamaican national, conspired to convince the elderly victim that she had won a $2.8 million dollar lottery and a Mercedes Benz, but needed to pay thousands of dollars in “fees” in order to receive her winnings.
During the scam, the victim was instructed to mail packages of cash and cashier’s checks, in addition to six iPhones, to the addresses of Luton’s friends.
On two occasions, Luton made trips to the victim’s home in Estes Park to pick up packages of cash. During the first trip in October 2018, one of Luton’s co-conspirators went to the victim’s door at 1:30 a.m., identified himself as an FBI agent, showed her a fake FBI badge, and directed her to hand over a package containing $65,000 in cash, the DOJ said.
On the second trip in January of 2019, Luton was arrested at the victim’s residence when he arrived to pick up more cash. When arrested, Luton had one of the iPhones purchased by the victim. In total, the victim was scammed out of more than $970,000.
Luton was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello, after being convicted in February of last year on the following charges:
- One count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
- Eight counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud.
In addition to the prison sentence and restitution, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $484,123.16 and imposed a $900 special assessment fee.
"This sentence is a significant step toward justice for the elderly victim of Mr. Luton's self-serving greed and deception. The FBI is committed to combating those who prey on vulnerable members of our community," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider.
"The FBI extends its appreciation to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Estes Park Police Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their collaboration on this investigation."
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