Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ––– Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart stated today that a Federal Grand Jury has returned a 13-count indictment charging four in the Myrtle Beach area for an alleged international telemarketing scheme targeting seniors.
Fabian Gray, a/k/a Mike Taylor, 29; Avia Reid, 29; Khalelah Powell, 20; and Romaine Gordon, 29, all of Myrtle Beach, have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment alleges that, since June 2015, the four defendants knowingly, willfully, and intentionally conspired to defraud victims by use of telemarketing. Namely, it is alleged that the defendants and their co-conspirators falsely informed more than 100 victims, most of them elderly, that the victims had won large awards of money and then convinced the victims that they had to pay fees in advance in order to receive their awards.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators sent communications purported to be from a genuine sweepstakes company, financial institutions, and even federal agencies that discussed the purported cash awards, designed to hide the true nature of the conspiracy and to convince victims of the authenticity of the winnings and fees. The defendants then allegedly instructed how and whom the bogus fees and taxes were to be sent. After receiving the victims’ money through prepaid cards, money orders, cash, personal checks and wire transfers, the defendants in turn wire transferred and carried to co-conspirators in Jamaica and elsewhere.
It is alleged in the indictment that at least $665,000 was stolen in the scheme.
The maximum penalty the defendants could receive per count is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Because the indictment alleges that the defendants targeted victims over the age of 55, the defendants face an enhanced penalty of up to 10 additional years for the first 12 counts of the indictment.
All defendants are currently detained pending trial. During the detention hearing of several of the defendants, information was presented to the court that the defendants are all originally from Jamaica and that at least two of the defendants are in the United States without legal status.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Derek Shoemake is prosecuting the case.
Acting United States Attorney DeHart stated that all charges in indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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