Stephens City man sentenced in lottery hoax

A Stephens City man was sentenced to 10 months in prison Wednesday in U.S. District Court for his role in an international lottery swindle.

Judge Michael F. Urbanski also ordered Carlos O’Brien Ricketts, 32, to pay $74,450 to the victims.

Authorities said Ricketts was part of a lottery scheme that operated out of Jamaica. The perpetrators bilked elderly people out of thousands of dollars by telling them to send their money to Ricketts to cover fees for purported lottery winnings that were actually a hoax.

A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said Ricketts, a Jamaican resident living in Stephens City, was a middleman while the scheme operated from May 2010 to April 2011. Ricketts also used an address in Winchester to receive money, part of which he kept for himself and part of which he sent to Jamaica by wire transfers.

Acting U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Giorno in the Western District of Virginia praised the investigation conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations unit.

“Fraud schemes like this one that prey on our senior citizens will not be tolerated,” Giorno said in a written statement.