Seven Defendants Charged in Multi-Million-Dollar Lottery Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Plead Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the guilty pleas of seven individuals, all residents of Israel, for their participation in a lottery telemarketing fraud scheme through which they stole approximately $2 million from elderly victims in the United States between 2007 and September 2008.

LIOR ORGAD, DAVID YAMIN, and MOR GALANTI pled guilty today before Magistrate Judge JAMES C. FRANCIS IV. GUY MAYO, ELAD MAYO, ASI ALMAKIAS, and YANIV KALBERS pled guilty before Magistrate Judge ANDREW J. PECK on March 15, 2011.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “These defendants bet that they would strike it rich by preying upon some of America’s most vulnerable citizens—the elderly—but they gambled and lost. We will continue working with all of our national and international law enforcement partners to protect Americans from fraudsters wherever they reside.”

According to indictments and an information previously filed in Manhattan federal court:

The defendants participated in a phoney “lottery prize” scheme that targeted hundreds of victims, mostly elderly, throughout the United States. The defendants identified victims by purchasing the names and contact information of U.S. residents who subscribed to sweepstakes lotteries from list brokers. They then contacted the victims and solicited information about their finances by falsely telling them that they had won a substantial cash prize and that they would receive it as soon as they paid the necessary fees and taxes. In reality, there was no lottery prize and the victims were collectively robbed of approximately $2 million.

All seven defendants were provisionally arrested in Israel in September 2008 based on the indictments. In November 2010, they were extradited from Israel into the United States. SHAI KADOSH, who is also charged in the scheme, is currently a fugitive.

GUY MAYO, ELAD MAYO, ASI ALMAKIAS, and LIOR ORGAD face a total maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and YANIV KALBERS, DAVID YAMIN, and MOR GALANTI face a total maximum penalty of five years in prison. In connection with their guilty pleas, these defendants each agreed to forfeit a sum of money equal to approximately $1.9 million.

All seven defendants will be sentenced on June 27, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. by United States District Judge LEWIS A. KAPLAN.

The investigation into the lottery telemarketing fraud scheme was conducted in New York by the FBI, with assistance from the Israel National Police. Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Tel Aviv Fraud Division of the Israel National Police. He also thanked the Office of International Affairs of the United States Department of Justice’s Criminal Division; the Department of International Affairs within the Office of the State Attorney in the Ministry of Justice for the State of Israel; and the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office, for their cooperation in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys AVI WEITZMAN and STEVE C. LEE are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney MICHAEL LOCKARD is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.