San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

US-Costa Rican man preyed on elderly in million-dollar sweepstakes fraud

A dual citizen of the United States and Costa Rica pleaded guilty Monday to a $1.88 million sweepstakes fraud scheme that targeted elderly U.S. residents, according a statement from the U.S. Justice Department.

Geoffrey Alexander Ramer, 34, of Costa Rica, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer of the Western District of North Carolina to wire fraud and money laundering in connection with the fraud scheme. Ramer’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

Between 2008 and December 2013, Ramer and his co-conspirators called U.S. residents impersonating a U.S. federal agency to tell them they had won a large cash prize. The swindlers, based in Costa Rica, told the victims that they had to send money to Costa Rica for a purported refundable insurance fee before they could claim their prize. Ramer did not stop there. Afterwards, the scam artists called to say that the prize amount had gone up and would require additional fake fees to claim it. Hundreds of people were taken by the scam before they ran out of money or realized they had been had.

Ramer’s fraud ring reportedly caused some $1.88 million in loses to victims.

Although the scheme was based in Costa Rica, the scammers used VoIP phones that would display a false (202) area code, indicated that the calls would have come from the Washington, D.C. area.

“Ramer preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of our society, callously and repeatedly defrauding elderly Americans by stealing their life savings,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “We hope that today’s guilty plea brings some solace to his victims. This prosecution sends a clear message to the next would-be con-artist: in protecting our citizens, the reach of the Justice Department will not stop at our country’s borders.”

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Ken Morris

Hmmm, I loathe creeps like this. There are so many legitimate businesses a person can go into to make money that there’s no moral excuse for a fellow with the abilities this guy apparently has to run a scam operation. He’s a parasite on society, and deserves the maximum punishment. Others shouldn’t have to share a world with creeps like this.

Without absolving him, however, there is the question of how the old folks he suckered could be so dumb. Sure, some may have suffered from dementia, but even they were lucid enough to allow their greed motive to overtake their common sense. The portrait of the victims isn’t pretty either.

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Two thoughts always occur to me when I read another of these scam stories: 1) The elderly should have accumulated sufficient wisdom and “life savvy” at this stage of their lives, to recognize a scam (they are ongoing!), and 2) Why do these elderly targets need MORE wealth? They are old, near the end of life, and probably not in need of more “stuff” or money. Just sayin’

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Could be that these seniors were wanting to leave more to their kids or grandkids. Makes sense to me, but then I’d personally be leery of such a phone call to begain with, plus I have no grandkids to leave such a windfall to.

These scammers deserve whatever punishment that is -and should be- meted out to them, hopefully somthing severe.

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