WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Merrillville telemarketer has been sentenced to over five years in prison for his role in a $10 million scheme to defraud mostly elderly victims in the United States. Carlin Woods pleaded guilty in 2017 to a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and another conspiracy count to commit money laundering. 

The plea agreement details that Woods worked in a Costa Rica call center and posed as U.S. government agency employees, such as the Federal Trade Commission or Customs and Border Protection, and would try to convince victims that they had won a sweepstakes prize. Woods, and other call center employees, would tell victims they needed to make a payment for a "refundable insurance fee" before being able to collect the prize. Woods, and others, used Voice over Internet Protocol technology, which made it appear they were calling from Washington D.C. and other U.S. locations. 

Woods instructed victims to send payments to Costa Rica or through people in the U.S. who collected money and forwarded the payments to Woods in Costa Rica. Woods admitted at his sentencing hearing that he and his co-conspirators stole more than $1.5 million. Woods will also be under three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.