Man of multiple addresses accused of bilking elderly East Caln resident
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
In 2010, an 84-year-old East Caln Township resident was contacted by telephone and informed that he had just won $3.5 million through a lottery, initiating one of multiple, cross-country scams that led to the caller’s international flight to avoid prosecution, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.
Hogan said Jack Mayer, 42, an Italian native whose addresses have included Florida, England, France, and the Dominican Republic, is now in custody at Chester County Prison, thanks to the diligence of Downingtown Police and cooperation from U.S. authorities in the Dominican Republic, where Mayer was located and deported.
“This defendant was preying on elderly and vulnerable victims. His crimes are appalling, and his flight was further evidence of his consciousness of guilt,” said Hogan. “We would have gone to the moon to bring this defendant to justice. We will not allow con artists to target the older citizens of Chester County.”
Hogan said that after the East Caln resident was notified of his win, he was instructed to send cashier’s checks to an account to cover taxes and fees, then the $3.5 million would be released. The caller gave the victim the names of alleged representatives of the IRS and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as contacts. The caller claimed to work for Town & Country, Inc., a sweepstakes company, and the caller gave the victim a website to check, Hogan said.
The victim sent a total of $262,035 in cashier’s checks to the account requested. The caller then requested an additional $224,000, at which point the victim reported the activity to the Downingtown Police Department, Hogan said.
Downingtown Police Officer Paul Trautmann began to investigate the matter and determined that the IRS and FTC representatives provided to the victim were fictitious; the website used as a front belonged to Town and Country Magazine, which had no relationship to any lottery; and the account to which the victim had been sending money was registered to Mayer and linked to another account used by him in Miami, Fla., the criminal complaint said.
Chester County authorities froze Mayer’s accounts and executed a search warrant on them, Hogan said. The police discovered that multiple other elderly victims around the United States, including a 91-year-old man from North Carolina and an 88-year-old man from Texas, had been taken in by the defendant’s scheme, Hogan said. The victims were defrauded of at least $1 million, Hogan said.
“This is an excellent example of law enforcement working together both nationally and internationally,” said Downingtown Police Chief James R. McGowan. “Our officers and prosecutors worked diligently with their counterparts to bring the defendant back to Chester County to face charges. They should be commended for their professionalism and perseverance.”
Hogan said he believes other victims exist outside the county’s jurisdiction. “We will take care of the crimes committed in Chester County,” he said. “I will forward this matter to federal authorities for them to look at crimes outside of Chester County.” Anybody with information is asked to contact the Downingtown Police Department at 610-269-0263 or the Chester County Detectives at 610-692-5100.