It’s always nice when a criminal is brought to justice, but there is an extra measure of satisfaction involved when the law catches up with someone who preys on the elderly and vulnerable.
Such is the case with Sanjay Ashani Williams of Jamaica, who has been found guilty of dealing in lead lists consisting of people who may be easy marks for international cyber fraud.
The leads are usually created by wholesalers who send out bogus mass mailings purporting to be sweepstakes entries. Recipients of the mailings who think they are legitimate pay to enter the non-existent sweepstakes.
The wholesalers then pocket the entry fee and sell the victims’ contact information to scammers. The fee can be around five dollars per name.
Threat of violence
Williams was a scammer before getting into the list business. He sometimes threatened his victims and told them that physical harm would come to them and their families if they didn’t follow his orders.
The list business proved more lucrative. He made about 400 list sales, authorities say. The buyers would contact the people on the list by telephone or mail and tell them they were sweepstakes winners. To get a prize, phony fees for taxes and insurance would be required.
Many victims sent in money. Obviously, there were no prizes. The money involved totals millions of dollars.
The victims are mostly U.S. residents. But not all of them. Lottery scammers are killing each other in Jamaica at a rapid rate. There may have been as many as a thousand murders on the island related to the scam.
Agencies working together
Fortunately, law enforcement officials in North Dakota and Florida have taken the lead in investigating and prosecuting this situation. Many other U.S. agencies and the Jamaican police have helped.
Williams was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay millions in restitution. Many more accused fraudsters are moving through the system and will be dealt with in due course.
Law enforcement officials said that U.S. victims have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude by coming forward and talking about what happened to them.
They deserve to get their money back and some recognition for their bravery and courage.