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3 Accused In Phony Prize-Promotion Mail Scheme On Long Island

July 11, 2018 - 7:27 pm
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CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- Three people on Long Island have been busted by the feds in phony mass mailing scheme that tricked hundreds of thousands of consumers into - collectively paying - more than $30 million for cash prizes that didn't exist.

Lorraine Chalavoutis, 61, of Greenlawn; Tully Lovisa, 55, of Huntington Station; and Shaun Sullivan, 37, of Merrick, all stood charged Wednesday with mail fraud and money laundering in a 12-count federal indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Justice Department officials said the trio dispatched prize-promotion mailings claiming recipients could receive a large cash prize in exchange for a modest fee. None of the recipients received any prize, the Justice Department said.

Many of those duped were seniors, prosecutors said.

The Federal Trade Commission sued Lovisa in 2010 for selling deceptive prize-promotion mailings, and Loivisa was ordered in December 2010 and April 2012 to cease any involvement in prize promotion mailings, the Justice Department said.

But Lovisa nonetheless conspired with Sullivan and Chalavoutis to set up numerous prize-promotion operations set up to defraud customers, using straw owners and aliases, prosecutors said.

Chalavoutis opened companies and bank accounts in the names of the straw owners to help conceal Lovisa and Sullivan’s involvement, prosecutors said.

“Earlier this year, when we announced the largest elder fraud sweep in history, we sent a clear message:  we will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a news release.  “When criminals steal the hard-earned life savings of older Americans, we will respond with all the tools at the Department’s disposal – criminal prosecutions to punish offenders, civil injunctions to shut the schemes down, and asset forfeiture to take back ill-gotten gains.  Today’s indictment shows we are following through on this promise, and fraudsters everywhere should take note of it.”

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.