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January 22, 2015 at 5:24 PM

Des Moines man gets 2 years prison for ‘cruel’ sweepstakes scam

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — A King County man has been sentenced to two years in prison for a “cruel” sweepstakes scam that federal prosecutors say targeted vulnerable people.

Eugene Maganya, of Des Moines, was arrested in February after a victim tipped off police. He was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Seattle for wire fraud.

Court records show the 30-year-old and others in California sent letters telling people they had won a big sweepstakes prize. The letters contained a bogus check and recipients were told to deposit it while sending along a fee to process the winnings.

Prosecutors said that by the time victims realized the winning checks didn’t clear, they had already sent the scammers money.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says more than 120 people sent nearly $350,000 to fake identities used by Maganya. One 77-year-old woman sent $1,000 cash, thinking she had won a sweepstakes.

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