A Las Vegas resident who participated in a fraudulent prize-notification scheme that bilked victims out of more than $9 million was sentenced today to federal prison, the Department of Justice announced.
U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro sentenced Andrea Burrow, 50, to 36 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release. Judge Navarro also ordered Burrow to forfeit $272,000. Burrow pleaded guilty in August 2020 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud based on her participation in a scheme that preyed upon hundreds of thousands of victims, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, with fraudulent prize notices.
The notices led victims to believe that they could claim a large cash prize if they paid a fee of $20 to $30. This was false; victims who paid the fees did not receive anything of value.
Burrow is the first defendant to be sentenced in connection with the scheme. Three other individuals – Patti Kern, Edgar Del Rio, and Sean O’Connor – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in 2019. Following these guilty pleas, Burrow was indicted in November 2019 along with five codefendants: Mario Castro, Jose Salud Castro, Salvador Castro, Miguel Castro, and Jose Luis Mendez.
The trial of the remaining five defendants, who are presumed innocent until proven guilty, is currently scheduled for June 7, 2021.
The scheme operated from 2010 to February 2018, when postal inspectors executed multiple search warrants and the Department of Justice obtained a court order shutting down the fraudulent mail operation.
The indictment and other court filings alleged that Mario Castro, Jose Salud Castro, Salvador Castro, Miguel Castro, Jose Luis Mendez, and Edgar Del Rio worked at the printing and mailing businesses that sent the fraudulent mail, and each shared the profits from the fraudulent prize notices with Patti Kern, who helped manage the scheme. Sean O’ Connor provided laser printing and data processing services to the scheme.
Burrow opened victim return mail, sorted cash and other payments, and entered data from the victims’ responses into a database that the scheme used to target past victims with more fraudulent mail, according to the indictment.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).
This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis.
Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses.
The hotline is staffed 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit their website.