News Americas, BISMARCK, N.D., Thurs. April 30, 2015: A man who along with his wife were both ripped off by a Jamaican lottery scam scam told a federal jury Wednesday that now have developed a serious case of mistrust.
“I’m a trusting person. We come from a town where you don’t have to worry about crime. You don’t have to worry about trust. You trust everybody. Now I’m at the point where I don’t believe nothin’ from nobody,” Doug Erickson said.
The Ericksons were testifying at the trial of Jamaican Sanjay Williams, of Montego Bay, who is accused of buying and selling so-called “sucker lists” with the names of potential victims for callers to exploit. The investigation originated with a victim from Harvey, North Dakota. Williams is facing multiple federal charges related to mail and wire fraud, all part of a massive case involving 32 defendants — 14 of whom are in Jamaica awaiting extradition to the United States — and more than 70 victims who claim to have been defrauded out of a total of more than $5 million.
The couple said they got a post card saying they can enter a lottery for $10.
“I thought, all right, we’ve spent $10 a lot worse ways,” Doug Erickson said during testimony.
A month after sending in the postcard, Kathy Erickson received a call that she had won $3.5 million, a Mercedes-Benz and a year’s worth of Geico car insurance. She said she told the caller she didn’t believe him. But after calls from official-sounding people and an email with a letterhead from a large national bank, the couple started what Doug Erickson called a “vicious cycle” by sending in $14,000 supposedly to cover possession, insurance and clearance fees.
What followed was a year-long nightmare that has wiped out most of their savings and an inheritance from Kathy Erickson’s mother.
Federal prosecutors say the couple is among more than 70 victims who were duped out of a total of $5 million in the Jamaican lottery scheme that preyed upon mostly elderly and vulnerable citizens in the United States.
Williams, 25, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. His lawyer, Charlie Stock, said Wednesday during his questioning of an FBI special agent that investigators did not look into whether his client was himself a victim of identity theft. Stock pointed to one incident in which Williams’ email was hacked.
The lawyer has implied that prosecutors have the wrong guy.
The trial is expected to last until the end of next week.