Seven people have been arrested and warrants were issued for two others in a lottery scam that targeted elderly people across the United States, NBCConnecticut.com reported.
Police in Stamford, Conn., have so far identified 31 victims from across the United States, mostly between 80 and 90 years old. Police have documented losses in excess of $165,000.
Police said the ring, based in Fairfield County, contacted victims by telephone or letter, telling them that they had won a prize, police said.
Before collecting any supposed winnings, the victims were told that they would have to pay taxes or fees and send money through Western Union or U.S. Postal Service money orders.
The money was then transferred to Costa Rica.
Victims who did send the money received additional phone calls telling them there was an issue and that they would need to send even more money before they could receive their prize.
The calls continue until the victim ran out of money or realized that he or she had been scammed, police said.
Police said they have obtained nine arrest warrants.
Police have arrested Tiffany Midgette, 32, of Stamford, Kinika Harvey, 28, of Bridgeport, and Stephanie Handy, 35, of Stamford.
They were charged with racketeering, money laundering in the third degree, larceny in the first degree, second-degree larceny, conspiracy at larceny in the first degree, conspiracy at larceny in the second degree and criminal attempt at larceny in the second degree.
Bond for Midgette and Harvey was set at $150,000, while bond for Handy was set at $125,000.
Kimberly Midgette, 31, of Stamford, Rannisha Fullmore, 27, of Stamford, Keneeta Washington, 30, of Stamford, and Aisha Jones, 27, of Stamford, were charged with larceny in the first degree, larceny in the second degree, money laundering in the third degree, conspiracy at larceny in the first degree and conspiracy at larceny in the second degree.
Bond for Midgette and Fullmore was set at $20,000, while bond for Washington and Jones was set at $75,000.
In addition to the seven local arrests, police have an extraditable warrant for the suspected ring leader, who lives in Costa Rica, and another person in Virginia.
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