LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A 56-year-old Las Vegas man is the latest to be sentenced to prison in a conspiracy to dupe elderly victims into sending $20 to $25 through the mail to claim prizes that didn’t exist.
Edgar Del Rio got 51 months in prison on a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He was sentenced Monday, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
Prosecutors said the scheme defrauded thousands of elderly and vulnerable victims out of more than $6 million.
From 2010 to 2018, millions of fraudulent prize notices were mailed, telling recipients all they had to do was send a small fee to claim their cash prize. “Once victims fell prey to the scheme, Del Rio and his co-conspirators bombarded them with more fraudulent mail,” the news release said.
Three men were sentenced in April: Mario Castro, 55, and Miguel Castro, 58, both of Las Vegas, were found guilty by a jury earlier this year. Mario Castro got 20 years in prison and Miguel Castro got 19.5 years. Jose Luis Mendez, 49, of Henderson, received 14 years in prison. Another man, Salvador Castro, was acquitted of all charges.
Three others also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with this prize notice scheme: Patti Kern, 66, of Henderson, Nevada; Andrea Burrow, 53, of Las Vegas; and Sean O’Connor, 54, of Las Vegas.
Postal inspectors executed search warrants and the Justice Department shut down the fraudulent mail operation. Del Rio operated one of several printing and mailing businesses that sent the fraudulent mail and shared the profits.
“The defendant is being held fully accountable for his role in perpetuating a multi-year fraud scheme and stealing millions of dollars from thousands of elderly victims,” U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada said. “Working together with the Consumer Protection Branch and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, we will pursue and shut down perpetrators who prey on vulnerable citizens for financial gain and bring them to justice.”
Trial Attorneys Timothy Finley and Daniel Zytnick of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mina Chang for the District of Nevada prosecuted the case.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has experienced financial fraud, experienced professionals are standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PST. English, Spanish and other languages are available.