WASHINGTON, DC -- Carlin Woods, 35, of Merrillville, Indiana, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina. Woods pleaded guilty on May 15, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, Woods worked in a call center in Costa Rica in which co-conspirators, who falsely posed as employees of U.S. government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Customs and Boder Protection and the IRS, contacted victims in the United States to tell them that that they had won a substantial “sweepstakes” prize.
After convincing victims, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, that they stood to receive a significant financial reward, Woods and his co-conspirators fraudulently told victims that they needed to make up-front payments for a “refundable insurance fee” before collecting their supposed prize. The members of the conspiracy used a variety of means to conceal their true identities, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which made it appear that they were calling from Washington, D.C., and other places in the United States.
Woods arranged for victims to transmit payments to Costa Rica or through people in the United States who collected money from victims and forwarded the payment to Woods and others in Costa Rica, he admitted.
At sentencing it was determined that Woods and his co-conspirators stole more than $1.5 million from victims.