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4 sent to prison in Florida sweepstakes fraud scam

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Posted at 11:26 AM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-04 11:26:38-05

MIAMI (AP) -- Four men have been sent to federal prison for their roles in a Florida sweepstakes fraud scheme involving thousands of victims around the U.S.

The Miami U.S. Attorney's Office says in a news release that the four were sentenced to prison terms of between seven and just over three years. They were convicted of mail fraud conspiracy charges.

Matthew Pisoni, 44, of Fort Lauderdale, Marcus Pradel, 41, of Boca Raton, and Victor Ramirez, 38, of Aventura, were found guilty of conspiring to commit mail fraud.

John Leon, 50, of Fort Lauderdale, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud.

Prosecutors say they falsely notified people by mail that they had won a substantial prize and that the recipients had to pay a fee of between $20 and $50 to claim their winnings.

The fraudulent letters told victims to pay the fees in cash or by check or money order payable to fictitious companies, but the money went to the defendants.

About 100,000 people were victimized by the fraud scheme.