On Wednesday, it was announced that four Florida residents had been sentenced to prison for participating in a sweepstakes mail fraud scheme. The defendants have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 42 months to 84 months. 44-year-old Matthew Pisoni, 41-year-old Marcus Pradel, and 38-year-old Victor Ramirez were found guilty of conspiring to commit mail fraud after a five-week trial that ended on July 26, 2017.
50-year-old John Leon of Fort Lauderdale previously pled guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud. Pisoni and Ramirez have been sentenced to 84 months, Pradel to 78 months, and Leon to 42 months imprisonment. Trial evidence showed that the four defendants falsely notified individuals by mail and told them that they had won a substantial prize.
The victims were told they needed to pay a fee ranging from $20 to $50 in order to redeem their purported winnings. During the course of the conspiracy, the four defendants victimized more than 100,000 individuals in the United States and abroad. The fraudulent letters encouraged victims to pay the fees by check, in cash or via a money order. The payments were made payable to fictitious companies.
The defendants processed the payments or deposited them into shell bank accounts. In total, the defendants managed to earn more than $25 million from the scheme. Additional details about the crime can be found here.