Three people from the Hamptons were charged Tuesday with running a confidence scheme, promising senior citizen victims millions of dollars in sweepstakes winnings in return for a total of $695,000 for supposed taxes and fees, officials say.
One of the alleged operators of the fraud, Anna Leon, 50, of East Hampton, was arrested Tuesday morning by FBI agents, officials said.
Leon is scheduled to be arraigned later Tuesday in federal District Court in Central Islip.
The two others also accused of mail and wire fraud -- Sandra Leon, 47, of Hampton Bays, and Ivan Pelaez, 51, of East Hampton -- are being sought, officials said.
The three contacted at least seven senior victims claiming they had won as much as $3.5 million in purported sweepstakes run by federal agencies such as the Government Accountability Office, according to court papers filed by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley King.
To claim their winnings, the victims were told they would have to first send funds to cover taxes and fees to post office boxes or bank accounts the defendants had set up on Long Island and in Manhattan, officials said.
"The defendants enriched themselves by taking advantage of elderly Americans," said Kelly Currie, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, in a statement. "We are committed to protecting seniors from such schemes."