March 7, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that a Florida man has pleaded guilty to four felony counts related to a sweepstakes scam that ensnared an elderly Perryville couple who lost more than $250,000. The man, Patrick Percival Wilson, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, one felony count of stealing by deceit, and one felony count of unlawful merchandising practices. Wilson has been sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in the scam.
The couple were first contacted by telephone and told they had won a $10 million sweepstakes. Later, the couple received fliers in the mail announcing the prize. The different fliers purported to be from the NBC network, the Federal Reserve, the United States Treasury, and Senator John McCain. Over time, the "prize" grew to $85 million and a "bonus prize" of an SUV.
The perpetrators convinced the couple to send money to pay for the taxes and fees, including storage fees for the vehicle.
Wilson received at least $67,000 in cashiers' checks and wire transfers out of more than $250,000 that the couple sent to the perpetrators. After being arrested and extradited to Missouri, Wilson spoke with investigators from the Attorney General's Office and admitted receiving the money. During his guilty plea hearing today, Wilson admitted to being part of the scam, in which he ultimately sent much of the money to Jamaica.
"This sentence sends a powerful message to those who would scheme to steal the hard-earned retirement savings of Missouri seniors," Koster said. "We will aggressively track down the perpetrators of these scams, including reaching across state lines, to protect Missourians."
The Attorney General’s Office was appointed special prosecutor in the case. Koster thanked Western Union for their assistance.