Defendants Plead Guilty to $3.5 Million Sweepstakes Scam Targeting Elderly
ATLANTA – Silvia Sanchez Valverde, Rodolfo Orozco Aguilar, Priscilla Sibaja, Daniel Sibaja, and Elpelice Figueroa Rosales have pleaded guilty to conspiracies to commit mail fraud and money laundering for their roles in a sweepstakes scam that targeted the elderly.
“These defendants stole the life savings of dozens of elderly victims and received more than $3.5 million,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “These schemes unfortunately are all too common and citizens should be wary of contests that require upfront payments to receive a prize.”
“Scammers – whether U.S.-based or abroad — who mistakenly believe they can avoid accountability for their criminal actions by transferring ill-gotten proceeds outside the country should know they are not immune from federal prosecution,” said Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Nick S. Annan. “This case shows an international border is no defense for those who defraud senior citizens, and HSI is committed to using its unique cross-border authority to investigate and hold accountable persons who commit such crimes.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: From February 2016 through September 2017, dozens of victims, most of whom were elderly, were contacted by telephone and told that they had won a sweepstakes or lottery. The victims were told that they could receive their sweepstakes winnings after they paid various expenses, such as taxes and fees.
The victims were directed to pay the expenses to various companies controlled by the defendants, such as J.G. Services, RF Financial Services, and Master Builders. The victims would then mail payments via personal and cashier’s checks to addresses that were linked to mailboxes rented by the defendants. The defendants deposited the checks, totaling over $3.5 million, into their bank accounts and then transferred the majority of the funds to Costa Rican bank accounts.
The defendants will appear before U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May for sentencing as follows:
Rodolfo Orozco Aguilar, 44, of Costa Rica is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2018, at 2:00 p.m.
Daniel Sibaja, 28, of Buford, Georgia is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.
Elpelice Figueroa Rosales, 62, of Buford, Georgia is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19, 2018, at 10:00.
Silvia Sanchez Valverde, 47, of Buford, Georgia is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19, 2018, at 2:00 p.m.
Priscilla Sibaja, 21, of Buford, Georgia is scheduled to be sentenced on November 20, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly K. Connors and Cassandra J. Schansman are prosecuting the case.
The Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative promotes investigations and prosecutions of financial scams targeting the elderly. For more information regarding the Elder Justice Initiative, please visit www.justice.gov/elderjustice.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov(link sends e-mail) or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
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