Ashley-Ann Eathel Frazer of Pembroke Pines, Florida was arrested on 7 July for her alleged involvement in a sweepstakes scam that collectively cost four women $240,000. Frazer, 26, faces charges for money laundering, obtaining property by fraud, and exploitation of the elderly. Bond for Frazer is set at $250,000, and she is required to provide proof that the source of her bond is legitimate. Frazer told the judge at her bond hearing that she intends to hire a private attorney to represent her.
According to the police report, four women from Hawaii, Oregon, California, and Texas were told they had won a car from Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes by an unidentified stranger who was ”very smooth” on the phone. The women, one of whom is over 80 years old, were told they had to pay delivery fees and taxes if they wanted to receive their prize. Believing the scam, the four women collectively sent $240,000 to the scammer and received nothing in return.
After the incident was reported to police, evidence showed that there is a South Florida link that ties all four cases together. Mark Moretti, a detective with Miramar Sheriff’s Office who was assigned to the case, found a connection that allegedly linked Frazer to the scam.
On July 6, Moretti received information from an investigator working for Fifth Third Bank about suspicious activity at the bank’s Miramar branch. The investigator specifically singled out Frazer’s bank account. The detective interviewed Frazer the next day andshe allegedly told him that she was unemployed and had four children.
Records show that Frazer had reportedly received over $70,000 worth of cashier’s checks and wire transfers from the four scam victims between January and July this year. Court documents show that the woman in Texas sent two checks worth over $10,000 to Frazer’s account; the Oregon woman sent a $35,000 cashier’s check; the Hawaiian woman wire transferred $3,000; and the woman in California deposited a $22,000 check.
When questioned about the money, Frazer allegedly told Moretti that she had been employed by anonymous parties to make deposits, withdrawals, and transfers using Western Union to unidentified recipients. Moretti told the press that investigators are still not sure if Frazer was just transferring the money, or if she had a more substantial role in the scam.
The detective advised the public to ignore solicitations from strangers who promise prizes on the phone. Publisher’s Clearing House states on its website that entering its sweepstakes is free and there are no fees associated with winning a prize.