A Long Island man has admitted to his role in a multi-million dollar elder fraud scheme that exceeded $30 million.
Merrick resident Shaun Sullivan, 37, pleaded guilty in Central Islip federal court to conspiracy to commit mail fraud by sending fraudulent prize-promotion mailings that led recipients, many of whom were elderly or vulnerable, to believe that they could claim large cash prizes in exchange for a modest fee.
None of the victims involved in the scheme received any substantial cash prize, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue noted.
Between December 2010 and July 2016, Sullivan and others sent the fraudulent mailings to thousands of victims throughout the country. The mailings appeared to be personally addressed to thousands of individuals whose names were on consumer lists obtained by Sullivan and his co-coconspirators.
Donoghue said that Sullivan and a second co-defendant, Tully Lovisa, rented and maintained private mailboxes in New York to receive return mailings sent by the victims. They created shell companies for the senders of the mailings, and hid their involvement in the business by using straw owners and aliases.
Lovisa pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in October 2018, and is awaiting sentencing. When he is sentenced, Sullivan will face up to 20 years in prison, as well as a $550,000 forfeiture, and an additional fine of up to $250,000.
“Sullivan preyed on consumers, many of them vulnerable and elderly, by sending fraudulent mailings designed to trick them into believing they had won a cash prize; he then lined his own pockets with the fees he extracted from the victims,” Donoghue said. “Protecting the community from mass mailing fraud schemes remains a priority of this Office and the Department of Justice.”
In a statement, USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip Bartlett said that “today’s plea is an example of the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to protect the vulnerable and older Americans, who were specifically targeted to receive bogus solicitations to lure the unsuspecting ‘prize winner’ to send money that was subsequently used for Mr. Sullivan and his co-conspirators own enrichment.”
“The Department of Justice will bring to justice those who exploit elderly consumers in violation of federal law,” Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt added. “We are actively working with our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to stop and punish schemes that harm consumers.”
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