A 30-year-old man from Jamaica was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to his role in a telemarketing fraud targeting the elderly, United States Attorney for South Carolina Peter McCoy announced Wednesday.
Antonio Thelwell, 30, was sentenced to 38 months in prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a release from McCoy’s office said. The scam “swindled more than 150 mostly elderly victims out of almost $850,000.”
Presiding in Florence, South Carolina, Judge Bryan Harwall sentenced Thelwell to the three years in prison, followed by three years of court-ordered supervision.
“Evidence presented in court established that Thelwell, who is a native of Jamaica, was one of 18 defendants involved in a large telemarketing fraud conspiracy beginning in 2010 which targeted elderly victims,” the release said.
All 18 defendants committed their crimes in South Carolina. Some of the victims targeting in the scam were from South Carolina as well.
“Thelwell and his conspirators would contact elderly individuals and falsely inform them that they had won a sweepstakes, but had to pay the taxes and fees in order to claim their bogus winnings,” the release said.
Evidence showed that Thelwell would “persuade victims to wire them significant amounts of money by various means,” according to the release.
“In order to make the scam appear legitimate, the perpetrators sent letters which appeared to be from government agencies informing victims that their payments had been received,” the release said.
According to evidence, Thelwell also recruited others to be a part of the scam.
“Thelwell was directly involved in scamming victims out of over $124,000, and the conspiracy as a whole swindled 157 victims out of over $839,000,” the release from McCoy’s office said.
Prior to the court proceeding, Thelwell was extradited through the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Jamaican authorities.
“This case was the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations,” the release said. “Assistant United States Attorney Brad Parham of the Florence office prosecuted the case.”
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