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New Haven man sentenced to 6 years for lottery and romance scheme

A New Haven man will spend the next six years behind bars for his role in defrauding elderly people across the country.

Rodney Thomas, Jr., 31, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Tuesday on charges that he engaged in lottery and romance scams along with a group of others between 2017-2020.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, lottery scams involve calling victims to inform them they have won money but that they must pay certain fees and taxes in order to claim it. When the victim sends some money, the scammer will ask for more to receive larger winnings, but no winnings are ever awarded. In a romance scam, scammers pose as prospective companions, usually by creating fake online profiles, gain their trust, and then request money.

“This defendant was an active participant in a scheme that involved the cruel theft from numerous seniors and other vulnerable individuals, and this prison term is appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery.  “I thank all of our law enforcement partners who investigated this case and helped achieve some justice for the victims of these crimes.”

The investigation into Thomas revealed that he and his partners defrauded over 200 people to the tune of $5 million, including one Connecticut victim who reportedly lost $1 million. Both Thomas and his partner, Farouq Fasasi, were found guilty and will reportedly be required to pay restitution to their victims. 

According to the U.S. Attorney, Fasasi was the one who recruited Thomas into the scheme, and the two then recruited others. Four others have been charged and convicted for their roles. Fasasi was sentenced earlier this month to 14 years in prison and was ordered to pay $5.9 million in restitution. 

In an effort to combat these types of schemes and to assist those who have fallen victim, the U.S. Justice Department has set up a National Elder Fraud Hotline. You can find more information at their website.

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Tricia Ennis

An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment and is always looking for new and interesting stories to tell. She believes in the power of journalism to affect change and to change minds and wants to hear from you about the stories you think about being overlooked.

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