Scammer headed to prison

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Con targeted local seniors

Mary Ann Martin demonstrates how she uses the ‘Dog Off’ alarm to discourage scammers who called almost incessantly over a two-day period.

Mary Ann Martin demonstrates how she uses the ‘Dog Off’ alarm to discourage scammers who called almost incessantly over a two-day period.

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

REELSBORO – Federal prosecutors have secured a conviction, and a judge has sentenced, a Canadian man who orchestrated a sophisticated scam, which targeted senior citizens – including at least one in Pamlico County.

The ‘sweepstakes fraud’ almost fooled Reelsboro resident Mary Ann Martin, whose experiences were reported on the front page of this newspaper.

Jamaa McKenzie, 33, of Canada, received a prison sentence of 78 months. The court also ordered restitution of $840,705


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According to the investigation, McKenzie — operating in and around the Montreal area — devised a scheme in which he called elderly United States citizens, falsely telling them they had won a large prize in a sweepstakes or lottery.

The defendant then convinced the victims to send money in order to receive their prize. The victims were identified from a ‘lead list’ that co-defendant Clayton Atkinson, the leader, purchased from a Montreal business.

Martin, the woman targeted in Reelsboro, says she once subscribed to Readers Digest, and believes her name was stolen or otherwise acquired from the internal records of the magazine publisher.

Seniors targeted were likely to have quick access to large sums of money, availability during the day to answer the phone, and vulnerability due to infirmities of age.

Pre-paid cellular phones were obtained under false names to contact the victims. When a victim answered the phone, fictitious names, titles and company names were used.

The investigation determined that at least 39 victims in various states, including North Carolina, were defrauded.

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