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Warwick Woman Indicted for Sweepstakes Scams

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld suspending 2020 RI mail vote witnesses on Aug. 7.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld suspending 2020 RI mail vote witnesses on Aug. 7.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] A Warwick woman has been indicted on  conspiracy and fraud charges U.S. Court for creating and running sweepstakes scams stealing about $10 million.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A Warwick woman alleged to have created and executed direct-mail sweepstakes scams defrauding seniors and other  individuals in Rhode Island and in dozens of states, stealing about $10 million, has been indicted by a federal grand jury and arraigned on conspiracy and fraud charges.

Tuesday, United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced the indictment of Megan E. Shine, 47, of Warwick, charged by  on June 17, 2024, with four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in U.S. District Court in Providence. She was released on unsecured bond. A federal indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

“Preying on the hopes of elderly and vulnerable victims for profit, and using fraudulent mailings to persuade them to part with their hard-earned money takes a terrible toll- financially and mentally,” remarked U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.  “Working with our partners at the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, the Postal Inspection Service, and federal, state, and local law enforcement, we are determined to ensure that those who seek to profit from fraud are held accountable.”

Charging documents allege that Shine utilized the U.S. Mail to engage in predatory fraud schemes that duped the elderly and other vulnerable individuals into sending payments, usually between $20 and $30 dollars, using mailings that falsely stated or suggested that recipients were entitled to cash prizes, valuable items, or other premiums. Many victims reported being contacted multiple times and sending multiple payments. The scheme was allegedly perpetrated through businesses Shine created and operated in Rhode Island, including Lucky Dog, LLC, d/b/a Premium Ops & Incentives, and Destiny Merchandise, LLC, d/b/a Independent Catalog Services.

Alleged deceptive solicitations conveyed a false impression that recipients had been individually pre-selected or verified and entitled to claim a large amount of money in a lottery or entitled to receive a valuable item. In the mailings, often-time personalized with the name of the recipient to bolster their apparent authenticity, recipients were instructed to send money, frequently by a deadline, to a PO Box in Providence for the “processing” or “handling” of their purported winnings.

The mailings were printed on official-looking or certificate paper, frequently carried what appeared to be the seals of governments or government agencies, and frequently contained other language and details designed to make them appear official or legitimate, including bar codes, document control numbers, printing that appears to be rubber stamped, such as the phrase “authorized document,” highlighted text, bank-check style typeface and formatting, as well as identification and other codes.  In reality, apart from the name and address of the recipient, it is alleged that the mailings were all identical form mailings.

The solicitations used selectively emphasized text and graphics to create a false overall impression that the recipients were receiving notices that they were already winners of substantial awards. In reality, not only did recipients not win any prize, but that the mailers did nothing to verify that the recipients were or are eligible for such a prize.

An investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Attorney’s Office revealed that sweepstakes solicitations were sent to recipients in forty-one states. The investigation conservatively estimated that the number of responses and payments received in response to the solicitations at nearly 50,000 per year.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Denise M. Barton and Peter  I. Roklan, as well Trial Attorneys Charles B. Dunn, Ann F. Entwistle, and Colin W. Trundle from the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.

The matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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