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Man Admits Operating Scam That Defrauded CT Victim Of Nearly $1.2 Million

A man has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge stemming from a lottery scam that defrauded an elderly Connecticut victim of nearly $1.2 million.
A man has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge stemming from a lottery scam that defrauded an elderly Connecticut victim of nearly $1.2 million. Photo Credit: District of Connecticut

A 35-year-old man has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge stemming from a lottery scam that defrauded an elderly Connecticut victim of nearly $1.2 million.

Stieve Fernandez, age 35, of Argentine and Jamacia, made the plea on Wednesday, Feb. 3, in Bridgeport, said U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2015 to 2018, Fernandez and others, including Minique Morris and Horace Crooks, defrauded an elderly Mystic resident in a lottery scam.

 As part of their scheme, Fernandez falsely claimed that the victim had won a lottery or sweepstakes and was required to pay fees purportedly to cover taxes, insurance, handling, and other charges related to the winnings, the complaint said.

Fernandez directed the victim to pay fees in various ways, including by mailing checks and money orders to Morris in Brampton, Ontario, and Crooks in Orlando, Florida; wiring funds to bank accounts controlled by Morris and Crooks; and purchasing and sending precious metals products to Morris and Crooks. 

 Fernandez instructed his co-conspirators how to transfer or deliver the fraud proceeds to him in Argentina or Jamaica, where he lived.

Through this scheme, the victim was defrauded of $1,196,207.

In October 2018, a grand jury in New Haven returned a 10-count indictment charging Fernandez, Morris, and Crooks with conspiracy and fraud offenses. Fernandez was arrested in Jamaica in May 2019 and extradited to the U.S. He has been detained since his arrest.

Fernandez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. 

Morris and Crooks previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and await sentencing.

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