4 from Gwinnett sentenced in $3.5M sweepstakes scam targeting elderly

Four Buford residents and a Costa Rican national have been sentenced to prison time for a sweepstakes scam that targeted elderly victims, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Silvia Sanchez Valverde, 47, Priscilla Sibaja, 21, Daniel Sibaja, 28, and Elpelice Figueroa Rosales, 62, all of Buford, and Rodolfo Orozco Aguilar, 44, of Costa Rica, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering in September. They were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May on Dec. 7.


PREVIOUSLY | 5 admit scamming elderly in $3.5M sweepstakes scam


The defendants called victims between February 2016 and September 2017 to tell them they’d won a sweepstakes or lottery, but had to pay taxes, fees and other expenses up front, according to the Justice Department. The victims sent money to businesses controlled by the defendants. That money would then be transferred to the defendants’ personal bank accounts and then sent to Costa Rican accounts, the Justice Department said. 

“These defendants targeted and bilked dozens of vulnerable elderly victims out of $3.5 million,” said U.S. Attorney BJay Pak in a press release. “Lottery and sweepstakes scams are one of the most common consumer frauds, with the majority of financial losses being suffered by the elderly. Citizens always should be wary of those requesting upfront money for supposed lottery or sweepstakes winnings.” 

Valverde was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. Daniel Sibaja was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release. Priscilla Sibaja was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release. Rosaes was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release. Aguilar was sentenced to four years in prison and one year of supervised release. He may also face deportation because he is a citizen of Costa Rica.


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