CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Two Jamaican nationals were each sentenced to more than five years in federal prison after pleading guilty in a lottery scam that targeted elderly victims from around the country.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, evidence presented in court revealed that 24-year-old Rojay Lawson and 53-year-old Theresa Lawson and/or their co-conspirators would contact elderly victims and falsely inform them that they had won a sweepstakes. 

“The supposed prizes in these sweepstakes usually consisted of millions of dollars, a new vehicle, or other valuable items,” prosecutors said. “The defendants and their co-conspirators would tell the victims that they needed to pay bogus fees and/or taxes in order to collect their purported winnings.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the defendants and their co-conspirators then directed the elderly victims to send bogus fees and/or taxes.

Victims would purchase prepaid cards, USPS money orders, bank money orders, or even mail-in cash or personal checks. Some made wire deposits directly into the defendants’ bank accounts, officials said.

“The defendants in turn wired the fraudulent funds to co-conspirators in Jamaica.  The defendants received more than $700,000 from the victims they targeted. At least 175 victims suffered a loss as part of the scheme.  Approximately 70 victims were over the age of 80.  The oldest victim was 96 years old,” said federal prosecutors.

United States District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks sentenced both Rojay Lawson and Theresa Lawson to 78 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision, in the event they are not deported upon release.

The defendants were also ordered to pay $405,401.00 in restitution. 

There is no parole in the federal system. This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorneys Emily Limehouse and Amy Bower prosecuted the case.