A New York man was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with his role in a bogus lottery scheme in which the victims were told they had won millions of dollars in lotteries but must first pay the taxes in order for their winnings to be released to them.
Federal judge Mark L. Wolf sentenced Wilder Vladimir Merelan, of West Hempstead, NY, 29, to four years and three months in prison and ordered him to pay $733,999 in restitution. In April 2016, he plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
From 2012 to 2015, Merelan’s Jamaican co-conspirators solicited victims, who ranged in age from 69 to 91.
The victims were told that they had won millions of dollars in a lottery but had to pay taxes on their winnings to the IRS before the funds could be released to them, according to the evidence.
Victims mailed checks or wired funds to Merelan, who kept a portion for himself and then distributed the rest as directed by his co-conspirators. Merelan was described to these victims as a “sub agent” for the IRS.
About 16 victims, including a Massachusetts man, sent more than $830,000 to Merelan in an effort to secure their supposed lottery winnings. Some of the funds were stopped by banks or intercepted by the U.S. Postal Service.
However, Merelan received $733,999.
After depositing the money into his bank account, Merelan withdrew cash, wired funds to people in the United States and Jamaica, and purchased reloadable prepaid cards, essentially draining his accounts of the funds he had received, according to officials.
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