A con artist has been sentenced to just over six years in federal prison for running a lottery/sweepstakes scheme that collected about $505,000 from elderly people.
Andre Saunders obtained more than $350,000 from a 77-year-old Fort Worth man, according to federal court documents.
U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor sentenced Saunders, 35, who has lived in Jamaica, New York and Florida, to 78 months in prison. Saunders pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in November.
O’Connor also ordered Saunders to pay $505,403 in restitution to the victims.
The sentence was announced Monday in a Fort Worth federal courtroom.
The Fort Worth man, whom federal agents did not identify, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Federal court documents gave this account:
The man responded to an email in 2012 that said he had won $2.5 million from the Sydney Australian Lottery and Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes does not exist.
Within days, he received a phone call from a woman with the purported sweepstakes saying that to claim his money, he would need to pay administrative fees. She called him many times demanding payment for the fees.
The woman stopped calling him, but he received calls from a David Turner, telling him that he would be receiving the sweepstakes. David Turner was Andre Saunders. Turner told the Fort Worth man that he needed to pay additional fees, and to make the checks out to Andre Saunders.
Records indicated that the Fort Worth man prepared 56 checks totaling $313,754.
To further the scheme in September 2014, Saunders mailed a fraudulent letter from the Internal Revenue Service from New York to the Fort Worth man. The letter, purportedly signed by an FBI agent, told the victim they were investigating a lottery scam and that he was entitled to receive a refund of $602,000 and that he should follow the procedures outlined by FBI agent David Turner.
The Fort Worth man contacted postal officials in September 2014.
Saunders was arrested in October in New York. Information on the woman who assisted him was not available Wednesday.
On Monday, Saunders was ordered to pay restitution of $380,522 to the Fort Worth victim. In addition, he must pay $124,881.07 to three other victims.