The ringleader of a $30 million fraudulent mass-mailing scheme pleaded guilty Friday to the scam, in which mostly elderly and vulnerable victims around the country paid fees to claim large cash prizes which did not actually exist, according to officials.
Tully Lovisa, 55, of Huntington Station, pleaded guilty in federal court in Central Islip to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, officials said.
The wire fraud count involved a related scheme by Lovisa to defraud the Federal Trade Commission.
In the direct-mailing scheme, victims were promised cash prizes of tens of thousands to several million dollars if they sent in a “processing” or “delivery” fee that ranged between $19.95 to $25, according to officials.
There were, in fact, no cash prizes in the scheme, which ran out of offices on Long Island from 2010 to 2016, officials said. The most the victims received were $1 so-called prize checks.
When Lovisa was arrested in July, Eastern District United States Attorney Richard Donoghue called the scheme “ a cruel hoax on [the] victims, many of them elderly and vulnerable.”
Before he pleaded guilty, Lovisa told U.S. Magistrate Gary Brown “the purpose of the mailings was to deceive people into sending money.”
After the plea Lovisa’s attorney, Sanford Talkin, of Manhattan, said his client "fully accepts responsibility for his conduct and looks forward to leading a law-abiding life.”
Eastern District United States Attorney Charles Kelly declined to comment afterward.
Lovisa faces up to 262 months in prison, forfeiture of $1 million and a fine of up to $30 million, when he is sentenced.
The cases of several people who were arrested along with Lovisa for their alleged roles in the scheme are pending, officials said.