A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for running two separate mail fraud schemes that defrauded victims out of more than $50 million, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Friday.
Ryan Young, 41, of Upper Saddle River, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to 72 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his role in the first scheme that operated from 2011 to 2016.
“New Jersey Fraudster Gets 6 Years for $50M Mail Scams Preying on Vulnerable Americans”
According to court documents, Young and his co-conspirators sent out fraudulent prize notification letters to victims in the U.S. and other countries falsely telling them they had won large sums of money or valuable prizes like luxury cars.
The letters instructed victims to send small processing fees, usually $20 or $25, to claim their supposed winnings.
Many victims received nothing in return, while some only got cheap jewelry or a list of unrelated sweepstakes. The large-scale international mail fraud scheme stole around $50 million from victims.
While awaiting sentencing for the first scheme, Young started a second mail fraud operation from March 2019 to May 2022. He sent letters falsely notifying recipients they were entitled to receive unclaimed funds worth millions of dollars, a share of a multimillion-dollar legal settlement, or a valuable prize in exchange for a small $30 to $40 fee.
“Scammer Continued $1.6M Mail Fraud Plot While Awaiting Sentencing in $50M Scam”
Young did not deliver any funds to victims who paid the fees. Instead, he sent booklets with publicly available information or flyers about online restaurant coupons. The second scheme resulted in $1.6 million in losses, court documents revealed.
“The defendant’s conduct is especially egregious. After pleading guilty and acknowledging his responsibility, Mr. Young decided to revert back to what he knew best, which was ripping off Americans,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group.
U.S. Postal inspectors warned that the sentence sends a clear message that fraudsters who think they can evade capture will be tracked down and face justice.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the years-long mail fraud operation that deliberately targeted vulnerable Americans struggling with debt, disability, or poverty.
“The Justice Department and its federal law enforcement partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who target vulnerable American consumers for financial gain,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton.
Prosecutors said Young’s conduct was especially egregious since he continued the second scheme while on release awaiting sentencing for the first. He ultimately stole more than $50 million from victims throughout the U.S.
The mail fraud schemes involved sending deceptive letters telling recipients they had won prizes or were entitled to funds in exchange for a small fee. But the promised winnings never arrived.
Civil Division prosecutors warned that mail fraud schemes often target vulnerable populations like the elderly, low-income families, and small business owners struggling from the pandemic. Americans should be wary of letters requiring upfront fees to claim prizes or funds.
Prosecutors credited U.S. postal inspectors for their investigation and commitment to bringing the perpetrator to justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York assisted with asset forfeiture.
The sentencing demonstrates the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to crack down on mail fraud and protect consumers from predatory schemes. Prosecutors said the 6-year prison term sends a forceful message that fraudsters will face consequences for their crimes.