By Cat Keniston
A South Los Angeles man who masterminded a lottery scam that targeted senior citizens with promises of cash prizes and cars -- as long as they first paid taxes and fees -- faces a potential prison term when he is sentenced Monday.
Carl Dean Bullock, 65, pleaded guilty in February to mail and wire fraud charges before U.S. District Judge George H. Wu. As part of his plea deal, Bullock will pay at least $45,700 in restitution to his victims.
Bullock was indicted last June by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on 13 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Bullock would tell his mostly elderly victims that they had won large lottery or sweepstakes prizes and, in order to obtain their "winnings," would need to send money to pay for taxes, fees and other expenses.
Hoping to collect the winnings, victims sent money via wire transfer, money orders and cash.
Bullock received at least some of the fraudulently obtained money, and then sent a portion of it to his co-schemers, most of whom were in Jamaica, he admitted.
The investigation uncovered 25 victims -- one of whom was 88 years old -- who sent nearly $200,000 to obtain their non-existent prizes.
"Foreign lottery and sweepstakes fraud cost Americans millions (of dollars) every year," Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss said when the case was filed. "When one family member is harmed, the impact can be felt by all. Losses can be monumental, and entire fortunes, inheritances and retirement security can be wiped out."
The fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors noted.