Two brothers from Maryland stole $164,297 from an elderly Bowling Green woman through a scam in which they convinced her to pay money up front to claim a big lottery prize, according to court documents.
Daniel K. Archer, 29, and his brother Matthew J. Archer, 28, each pleaded guilty to 20 counts of wire fraud in the case Thursday in federal court.
The two were first charged in state court, where a memo in the court file says someone contacted a woman in Bowling Green and told her she had won $2.5 million and a new car, but that she would need to pay taxes before receiving the money.
Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes do not require people to pay fees or taxes in advance to receive winnings.
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The woman sent money orders totaling $164,297.40 before a family member became aware of the payments, according to court records and the Bowling Green Daily News.
The newspaper reported that the family members contacted Kentucky State Police in June 2016 after overhearing her stepmother talking with someone on the telephone about arranging another payment.
State police arrested Matthew Archer when he came to the older woman’s house to pick up $50,000, according to the court file.
Federal court records do not name the woman in Bowling Green.
She was not the only victim of the scam. The federal indictment in the case says the Archer brothers contacted several people by phone or email between November 2014 and April 2016, telling them they could claim lottery prizes by paying taxes and fees.
“These thieves preyed on the trust of victims, most of whom were elderly citizens, by lying that they were sweepstakes winners,” U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman said in a news release. “In reality, there were no winnings and the scheme caused a financial hardship to the victims.”
The brothers agreed to pay a total of $728,442 in restitution.
The charges against them carried a maximum of 400 years in prison, but their sentences are likely to be much lower under advisory federal guidelines. They are to be sentenced in April.