Middle Georgia man pleads guilty in Jamaican lottery scam

A Cochran man who was part of a scheme that duped people into believing they had won the Jamaican lottery and needed to pay taxes before they could receive their prizes was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in federal prison.

Elvert A. McNair, 52, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud, had told authorities that he estimated he received about $250,000 in payments from people, many of them elderly, who were duped in the ruse.

It involved perpetrators who, posing as IRS agents, called and mailed victims to tell them to mail or wire money to pay taxes on lottery winnings, and that if the victims didn’t pay they would be fined.

The case first came to the attention of investigators in early 2012 after a mail carrier in Cochran thought it suspicious that cashier’s checks totaling about $80,000 were being sent to McNair’s address.

McNair was told to stop, according to a court filing in the case, but that he continued receiving checks.

Officials said that well into 2015, when federal investigators questioned McNair again, he went on keeping some of the checks’ proceeds — possibly as much as $95,000 worth — and sent the rest on to as-yet-unknown scamsters in Jamaica.

According to court filings, McNair acknowledged receiving the checks but said he had not contacted anyone to ask that they send them to him.

He was ordered to forfeit $58,460 as part of the plea agreement and to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term.

Joe Kovac Jr.: 478-744-4397, @joekovacjr