An 89-year-old Virginia woman thought she’d won the jackpot, so she sent more than $280,000 to a Florida man and woman who investigators say had nothing to do with the lottery.
Now Yanique Chantel Coach, 25, of Orlando and Dwayne Breary, 31, of Fort Lauderdale are facing federal charges.
The trouble began in fall 2014 when the Carroll County woman answered calls telling her she’d won $3.5 million from the “Mega Millions Sweepstakes,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Two men told the woman she had been entered in the sweepstakes through a magazine subscription, prosecutors said.
One of the men said he was with the sweepstakes and the other purported to be an attorney, she told investigators. They told the woman she needed to pay fees and taxes before collecting her winnings.
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The men are accused of telling her to “make up a ‘cover story’ ” when withdrawing money from her bank so tellers would not suspect the real reason, according to court documents.
The woman complied, mailing $282,600 in cash to several locations in Florida and Georgia between Oct. 31, 2014 and Nov. 25, 2014.
“She concealed the money in magazines and cereal boxes,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
The large withdrawals made family members suspicious. That’s when woman’s relatives contacted the FBI.
On March 6, 2015, the men called the woman again, this time demanding she send $150,000 to an Orlando apartment, records show. About two weeks later, FBI agents sent a decoy package to the address via UPS.
The apartment was rented to Coach, records show. When the package arrived, investigators saw Breary sign for it under a fake name, they said.
The two had accepted previous packages the same way at the behest of a friend of Coach’s who lives in Jamaica, prosecutors said. The friend then traveled to Florida to pick up the money, which investigators say she split with Coach and Breary.
Coach and Breary are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They were arrested and released from jail Wednesday, court records indicate.
Breary and Coach face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.