Two Schenectady residents are now facing federal charges in connection with an alleged lottery scam that targeted seniors nationwide.
Jeragh Powell, 25, and Kimberly Powell, 37, each face a new indictment reported Thursday that includes three counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
They are accused of snaring their victims by mailing notices of lottery winnings then following up with phone calls to convince them to pay taxes and fees to claim their supposed prizes.
They allegedly worked with co-conspirators in Jamaica to perpetrate the scam from April 2014 to June 2015, bilking tens of thousands of dollars out of trusting victims.
The federal indictment in U.S. District Court in Albany relates specifically to allegations related to an attempted scam perpetrated against a man from Missouri. Authorities allege:
The Powells first contacted the victim by mail in August 2014, sending a letter and other documents claiming the man had won a $3 million lottery prize and a BMW. To claim the bogus prizes, the man had to send $45,000 in taxes and fees.
Then in May 2015, they followed up with another letter, informing the man he’d won a $4 million prize and a BMW, but needed $250,000 in taxes and fees.
The man apparently did not respond to the first scam, but responded to the second and it led to the Powells’ arrest.
The man first sent a $16,000 check to the Powells’ Schenectady address. Days later, he deposited another $10,000 in the Powells’ account.
Kimberly Powell soon called the U.S. Postal Service asking about a priority mail package containing the check. An undercover postal inspector returned her calls. She claimed to be the man’s sister.
Unidentified callers soon called the man asking for two more $15,000 checks. An undercover postal inspector then delivered the first check to the Powells’ 1652 Van Vranken Ave. address and Jeragh Powell claimed to be the sender’s nephew, according to the indictment.
Police soon arrested both Powells.
If convicted of the charges, the Powells each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
This case is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Coffman.
Authorities advise that anyone who receives phone calls, emails or mail advising them that they have won something should never send money to anyone and always check with local authorities if they have any questions or to confirm the prize/winnings.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.