Close to $1 Million stolen from an Estes Park woman.
and what the FBI suggests to avoid this crime happening to you or loved ones
Leonard Luton, A Jamaican national National living in Brooklyn, NY, was sentenced Wednesday to 108 months in federal prison for his part in a lottery scam that scammed an elderly victim from Estes Park out of more than $970,000, according to the prosecution.
Luton was also ordered to repay $881,477.41 and be placed on supervised release for three years upon completion of his prison sentence. Part of the restitution had already been seized in immediate forfeiture of more than $484,000.
The victim was convinced by Luton and another Jamaican National accomplice that she had won a $2.8 million lottery and a new car.
But they told her that she would need to pay thousands of dollars in fees to receive her prizes.
In October 2018, the two perpetrators showed up at the victim's home in Estes Park at 1:30 in the morning as they posed as FBI Agents (complete with a fake badge) and demanded she hands over $65,000 in cash.
Luton returned to the woman's home the following January to pick up more cash. But, he was surprised to find actual FBI Agents waiting for him, along with Estes Park Police Officer and Latimer County Sheriff Deputies.
He was indicted the next month and convicted in February of 2020 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and eight counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud.
According to court records, the case is still ongoing.
I reached out to the FBI’s Public Information Officer out of Denver for a statement:
"This sentence is a significant step toward justice for the elderly victim of Mr. Luton's self-serving greed and deception. The FBI is committed to combating those who prey on vulnerable members of our community," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. "The FBI extends its appreciation to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Estes Park Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for their collaboration on this investigation."
They also included some great information on how we can help avoid these type of scams, known as elder-fraud:
Seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for financial fraud crimes.
Each year, millions of older Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or confidence scheme, including lottery/sweepstakes, romance, technical support, and money mule scams, to name a few. The FBI has prioritized our efforts to address elder fraud and will continue to engage with our partners in law enforcement, prosecution and in the community.
Seniors are a particularly vulnerable victim group and are often specifically targeted for financial fraud crimes. Seniors are often financially stable and own their home, they are perceived as more polite and trusting, may spend a great deal of time alone, may have diminished physical or mental capacity, and are less likely to report being victimized by a scam out of shame. Criminals often focus their efforts on seniors to exploit these characteristics, at times demanding confidence and using intimidation or threatening violence, and wreaking havoc on victims’ financial, psychological, and physical well-being. The victims of these schemes often lose thousands of dollars or more apiece, which can cause significant harm to elderly victims’ and their caregivers’ daily survival.
An important step in avoiding being victimized is education to raise awareness of the numerous types of scams targeting the elderly. Here are some tips:
Legitimate customer, security, or technical-support companies will not initiate unsolicited contact with individuals.
Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will urge the victim to act fast to protect their device. They create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure the victim into immediate action.
Do not give unknown, unverified persons remote access to devices or accounts.
Ensure all computer anti-virus, security, and malware protection is up to date. Some victims report their anti-virus software provided warnings prior to attempts. Consider installing ad-blocking software that eliminates or reduces pop-ups and malvertising (online advertising that spreads malware).
Recognize fraudulent attempts and cease all communication with the criminal.
If you receive a pop-up or locked screen, shut down your device immediately. Ignore any instructions to not power off or restart your computer as victims have reported that shutting down their devices and waiting a short time to restart often eliminates the pop-up or locked screen. Additional information is found on IC3’s website at: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2018/180328.aspx
Scammers target and take advantage of people looking for companionship or romantic partners. Seniors, who are often isolated and lonely, are particularly susceptible. Criminals win the trust of their victims and convince them to send them money so they can come visit, help with expenses stemming from an emergency, or for some other fraudulent purpose.
Talk over investments with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor.
Do not pay for services via prepaid or gift cards or cryptocurrency. Legitimate services will not request payment via prepaid or gift cards or cryptocurrency.
If you know a senior who may be a victim of fraud, regardless of financial loss, immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency, or FBI field office by calling 1-800-CALL FBI, or online at
, or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.