Bismarck, North Dakota (AP) — Testimony wrapped up Monday in the case of man on trial in North Dakota for what authorities say was a role in a Jamaican lottery scam that bilked victims out of millions of dollars.
Sanjay Williams, 25, of Montego Bay, Jamaica, is charged in federal court with conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty. Authorities say Williams bought and sold lists of potential victims on various websites and recruited people in North Carolina to help him with financial transactions.
Both the prosecution team and defence attorney Charlie Stock finished their presentations Monday, on the sixth day of trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday.
Stock said during the trial that so many people involved in the scheme used fake names and IDs that it’s difficult to believe most of the witnesses. He said that investigators did not look into whether his client was himself a victim of identity theft. Stock pointed to one incident in which Williams’ email was hacked.
Prosecutors say the scam targeted mostly elderly and vulnerable citizens who were usually told they could win millions and a new car if they paid certain fees and taxes. The case originated with a widow from Harvey, North Dakota, who says she lost nearly $300,000.
Jamaican lottery scams have been happening for years, and Congress has held hearings about them, but few cases of this magnitude have been prosecuted. Williams is the only one of 32 defendants to opt for trial. At least eight defendants are awaiting extradition from Jamaica.