- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2018

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - A Maryland man has been sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for scamming dozens of elderly people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by convincing them that they needed to pay taxes or fees to collect lottery or sweepstakes prizes.

U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis on Monday sentenced Onijah Crighton, 23, of Chillum, to 57 months in prison and ordered him to pay nearly $400,000 in restitution.

One of the more than 100 victims of Crighton’s “advance fee scheme” was an elderly Virginia man with Parkinson’s disease, according to a court filing. The man sent 44 payments totaling about $112,000 to Crighton and a co-conspirator, Travis Ennis, after they falsely told him that he was the winner of a $2.5 million sweepstakes prize, the filing says.

Authorities also accused Crighton of using elderly people’s personal information to fraudulently obtain hundreds of debit cards in their names without their knowledge or consent.

Crighton and Ennis were indicted in November 2017 on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Crighton pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in June.

Ennis was shot and killed in Washington, D.C., on March 21 before the case against him was resolved, according to a court filing by a U.S. Pretrial Services officer.

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