BOSTON – A Cape Cod woman was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for her role in a fraudulent lottery scheme.
Ashley Barrett, 26, of Hyannis, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to 21 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $325,148 in restitution. In November 2018, Barrett pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.
Between September 2012 and January 2016, Barrett and others devised a scheme to defraud elderly victims across the country by falsely representing to them that they had won millions of dollars in a lottery, and that, in order to receive their winnings, they had to pay taxes or fees. Twelve elderly victims sent Barrett wire payments and checks totaling $325,148. This amount does not include envelopes of cash that victims mailed to Barrett.
The victims include a 73-year old farmer from Iowa, who is a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and cancer survivor. The victim received a call stating that he had won the Mega Millions lottery but first had to pay taxes on his winnings. After paying some money and then stopping, the victim was contacted by a man purporting to be a federal agent who promised to help the victim get his money back from the “lottery scammers.” This person told the victim to send money to Barrett, who supposedly was also a federal agent. The victim subsequently sent Barrett checks totaling $27,098.
Another victim was a 73-year old retiree who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, a bedridden Korean War veteran. The victim received calls stating that she had won $10 million in a lottery, plus cars and a truck, but that she had to pay taxes and customs fees up front. The victim sent Barrett checks totaling $26,000. As a result of being scammed by Barrett and others, the victim and her husband have lost their home, an RV, a truck, and their credit.
Another victim was a Florida widow with no children. In 2015, the victim, suffering from dementia, told her nephew that someone claiming to be Ashley Barrett had called and told her she had won the lottery. The victim sent Barrett checks totaling $25,000. The victim died last year at age 93 from Alzheimer’s disease.
Another victim is a 77-year old widow who lives alone in Pennsylvania. She received calls saying she had won the Mega Millions lottery and a car. Later a man claiming to be a federal agent called the victim and said he knew that she had been sending money to various people, and that she would be arrested for money laundering unless she mailed money to Barrett. She sent Barrett checks totaling $18,000. The victim, who had retired early from her job as a nurse, lost all her retirement savings to Barrett and other scammers. As a result, she has had to take two part-time jobs, each paying $8/hour, to make ends meet.
Other victims include a Navy veteran who lived in Arkansas until his death in 2015 at age 87, who sent Barrett $149,050 in wire transfers and checks; an 88-year old South Carolina woman who sent Barrett $43,500 in wire transfers and checks; an 84-year old Indiana woman who sent Barrett checks totaling $18,000; an 80-year old woman in Georgia who sent Barrett a check for $9,000; an 84-year old Kentucky man who sent Barrett a check for $8,000; a 90-year old Illinois man who sent Barrett a check for $5,000; an 89-year old woman who wired $3,000 to Barrett; and an 87-year old Texas man who wired Barrett $2,000. A 13th victim, a 95-year old woman in West Virginia, mailed Barrett an $8,000 check that was intercepted by postal inspectors.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of elder abuse, see the Elder Abuse Resource Roadmap for help: https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/roadmap
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.