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DOJ: Fraudulent prize scheme scammed thousands of elderly victims

A Las Vegas man was sentenced Monday in federal court for operating a prize notification scheme that scammed thousands of vulnerable victims.

Edgar Del Rio, 56, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and was sentenced to 51 months in prison. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Nevada, Del Rio and several co-conspirators mailed millions of prize notices that told victims that if they paid $20 to $25 they could claim a large cash prize.

If a person paid, scammers continued to send more fraudulent mail. Del Rio and others received millions of dollars from victims who were described by the U.S. attorney’s office as elderly and vulnerable.

The scheme went from 2010 to 2018. Six other Southern Nevada residents have pleaded guilty or been sentenced for their part in the operation.

“The best defense is to not respond to prize-winning correspondence in the first place, and if you have to pay money to claim a prize, you can be sure it’s a scam,” Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Services said in a statement.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com.

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