CT man who led romance, lottery scamming ring sentenced to 14 years in prison

Federal court in Bridgeport. A Manchester man was sentenced to 14 years in federal court Monday for leading a scamming ring that defrauded more than 200 people nationwide of almost $6 million.

Federal court in Bridgeport. A Manchester man was sentenced to 14 years in federal court Monday for leading a scamming ring that defrauded more than 200 people nationwide of almost $6 million.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

BRIDGEPORT — After promising love and wealth, the leader of a lottery and romance scheme ring was sentenced on Monday, according to federal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport ordered Farouq Fasasi, 28, of Manchester, to serve 14 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his role in scams that primarily targeted seniors, U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery said in a news release Monday.

Investigators discovered that the scams defrauded more than 200 victims across the U.S. of more than $5 million.

“Many of the victims were elderly and vulnerable, and some victims lost their life savings,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “One Connecticut victim lost more than $1 million.”

“This is an appropriate sentence for a financial predator who made his money by systematically and cruelly victimizing seniors and other vulnerable individuals,” Avery said in a statement.

Fasasi is currently released on $200,000 bond. He is required to report to prison on Sept. 21.

From August 2015 to March 2020, Fasasi, Rodney Thomas Jr. and others scammed mostly seniors by claiming the victims had won the lottery and needed to pay fees, or pose as a potential love interest and say they needed funds to visit the victim or to pay for a medical emergency. These scams would induce the victims to give Fasasi and others money, gifts and personal details. Victims sent cash, money orders or checks to various addresses in Connecticut, or they wired or deposited money directly into bank accounts controlled by members of the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Fasasi, Thomas and other members of the scheme lived together for some time at a multi-family home on Sherman Avenue in New Haven. There, they received many packages that contained cash, checks and money orders from victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Investigators with the U.S. Postal Service started looking into the scheme when they discovered a significant number of packages were being delivered to the Sherman Avenue home, as well as another address in New Haven and an address in Hamden, according to court documents.

Fasasi also recruited others into the scheme, including those who served as “money mules.” The “money mules” used personal bank accounts and also established accounts for businesses and charities to launder money obtained from fraud victims, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Fasasi and Thomas were found guilty of multiple charges stemming from the scheme on Feb. 15. In addition to his sentence, Underhill ordered Fasasi to pay $5.95 million in restitution. Thomas awaits sentencing.

Four others have also been charged and convicted of offenses stemming from their participation in the scheme.

For seniors who may be victims of financial fraud, please call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).