U.S. officials announced on Monday the arrest in Jamaica of a man they accuse of being the ringleader of a lottery scam that swindled at least 70 Americans out of millions of dollars, the Washington Post reports.
Jamaican authorities said they arrested Lavrick Willcocks, 27, on Saturday at a Kingston hotel, ending a long manhunt.
U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G. Moreno said in a statement that the arrest was a joint effort between American and Jamaican law enforcement officers.
The international lottery scam involved multiple perpetrators. They typically notified victims falsely that they won a large sweepstakes prize. The scammers would then direct their targeted victims, people over 55 years old, to send money to pay taxes, fees and insurance to get their ficticious winnings.
Moreno said the con artists “prey on America’s most vulnerable citizens and undermine the rule of law in Jamaica.”
Willcocks faces multiple charges in U.S. federal court, including money laundering, conspiracy and wire fraud. American officials started the extradition process three years ago.
According to the Jamaica Observer, Willcocks escaped capture earlier this year in an police operation that apprehended 19 others in his network. Jamaica extradited seven of those captured in the raid who were wanted in the United States.
“We look forward to swift his extradition under our treaty arrangements,” said the American ambassador. “More indictments are coming.”
In the meantime, Willcocks is scheduled to appear in Jamaican court on Tuesday.
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