Extradited Jamaican National Sentenced in Federal Court for Telemarketing Fraud Targeting Elderly Victims | USAO-SC

Florence, South Carolina — United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. announced today that Antonio Thelwell, 30, was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which swindled more than 150 mostly elderly victims out of almost $850,000.

Evidence presented in court established that Thelwell, who is a native of Jamaica, was one of 18 defendants involved in a large telemarketing fraud conspiracy beginning in 2010 which targeted elderly victims. Thelwell and his conspirators would contact elderly individuals and falsely inform them that they had won a sweepstakes, but had to pay the taxes and fees in order to claim their bogus winnings.  Through this scam, Thelwell and others were able to persuade victims to wire them significant amounts of money by various means.  In order to make the scam appear legitimate, the perpetrators sent letters which appeared to be from government agencies informing victims that their payments had been received.  Not only did Thelwell contact victims directly, but he also recruited other individuals to contact victims, receive money from those victims, and wire the illegally obtained funds to him in Jamaica.  Thelwell was directly involved in scamming victims out of over $124,000, and the conspiracy as a whole swindled 157 victims out of over $839,000.     

The successful prosecution of Thelwell in the United States required that he be extradited from his native country of Jamaica.  His extradition to the United States was made possible through the efforts of the case agents, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and Jamaican authorities.

Chief United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell sentenced Thelwell to 38 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Brad Parham of the Florence office prosecuted the case.

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