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North Carolina residents plead guilty to sweepstakes fraud

Two Greensboro, North Carolina, residents have pleaded guilty to federal allegations in connection with a fraudulent sweepstakes system in Costa Rica. The pair, a 39-year-old woman and her 41-year-old husband, were accused of white collar crimes after they allegedly established a sweepstakes program in Costa Rica. That program was reportedly designed to fraudulently solicit funds from U.S. residents, many of whom were elderly. In all, the couple is accused of making off with more than $840,000 because of the scheme.

Federal investigators say that the couple set up several call centers in Costa Rica. They would contact Americans to tell them that they had won a large cash prize through a foreign sweepstakes. In order to receive that prize money, though, the victims were told that they had to send money to Costa Rica as an "insurance fee" that would be refunded later. The couple then apparently never returned the money.

The couple was accused of using Internet technology to mask their call location. Victims saw a number that originated in Washington, D.C., according to official reports. The couple apparently told victims that they represented a federal agency.

A sentencing date has not yet been set for this couple. However, since the pair is accused of federal financial fraud, they could face hefty consequences for the violations. Criminal defendants who are facing such long-term consequences may consider the use of a plea agreement, which can provide favorable terms in exchange for a guilty plea. Defendants should carefully consider their plea decision, as this particular choice can have lasting ramifications. Each criminal defense case is different and deserves a customized approach to promote the rights of the defendants involved.

Source: News & Record, "Greensboro woman, husband plead guilty in sweepstakes scam" Aug. 04, 2014

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