HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on January 25, 2021, Caron Pitter, age 44, Rohan Lyttle, age 45, and Rohan Lyttle, Jr., age 23, all residents of Queens, New York, were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, with additional mail fraud charges against Pitter and Lyttle and a wire fraud charge against Lyttle. The indictment follows the filing of a criminal complaint against the three defendants on January 28, 2020, when Pitter and Lyttle were also arrested. Rohan Lyttle, Jr. remains at large.
According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the indictment alleges that until December 2020, Pitter, Lyttle, and Lyttle, Jr., working with other coconspirators, defrauded victims using a common scheme known as a “sweepstakes scheme.” According to the indictment, a sweepstakes scheme typically starts with a fraudulent telemarketer telling a prospective victim that he or she has been selected as the winner of a large sweepstakes prize. The telemarketer informs the victim that he or she must first pay an “advance fee” to defray various expenses, such as taxes, before receiving the prize. Often these supposed advance fees continue until a victim has depleted his or her life savings, and no prize is ever furnished. Frequently, the advance-fee payments go to intermediaries or “money mules” before getting “flipped” to another member of the conspiracy, often located overseas.
Each of the known victims in this case either mailed cash or money orders or wired payments to someone in the United States, including the three defendants. One of the victims, known as “V1” in the indictment, is a 75-year-old man from Mechanicsburg, PA, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. In May 2020, V1 was contacted by telephone by an individual who identified himself using the pseudonym “Andrew Goldberg” and was supposedly a representative of Publishers Clearing House (PCH). Goldberg told V1 that V1 was the recipient of a $2.5 million PCH cash prize. Goldberg told V1 that he had to prepay taxes to receive the cash prize. From May 2020 through November 2020, V1 continued to send additional payments for taxes, insurance, and transportation fees.
V1 ultimately sent more than $728,000 in cash to satisfy the advance-fee conditions. These mailings went to both Pitter and “Rocars Auto,” an automobile repair shop located in the borough of Queens, New York and affiliated with both Caron Pitter and Rohan Lyttle. Additionally, V1 was directed to purchase auto parts for a Land Rover from a car dealership in Cumberland County, PA and have them shipped to “Ro-Cars Auto,” resulting in over $15,000 in charges to two of V1’s credit card accounts. V1 never received any cash prize.
Similarly, four other victims identified in the indictment either mailed cash to addresses associated with “Rocars Auto” or made bank transfers to accounts and addresses associated with Caron Pitter, Rohan Lyttle, and Rohan Lyttle, Jr. At least one of these victims was likewise victimized by individuals posing as representatives of PCH.
The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ravi Romel Sharma is prosecuting the case.
Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The maximum penalty under federal law for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud is 20 years’ imprisonment. The maximum penalty under federal law for mail fraud and for wire fraud is likewise 20 years’ imprisonment. These charges may also carry a fine and a term of supervised release following imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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