SARASOTA, Fla. — Deputies arrested a south Florida man on fraud charges after he scammed an 88-year-old Sarasota resident out of $63,000 through a Publishers Clearing House scam, only to discover numerous other victims.
The victim believed he was paying taxes for Publishers Clearing House winnings in advance and deposited $63,000 into two separate bank accounts.
Detectives began investigating in October when family members of the 88-year-old filed a report with the sheriff’s office.
Through video surveillance, detectives identified Donte Johnson, 25, of Plantation, as the man who used the victim’s identity to withdraw funds.
On March 3, with assistance from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Plantation Police Department, Sarasota deputies executed a search warrant was executed on Johnson’s home.
During the search, detectives recovered more than $17,000 in cash, a stolen firearm, and several electronic devices.
Detectives identified at least 17 additional elderly victims and believe there may be others who fell victim to Johnson’s scam. In total, detectives estimate Johnson stole approximately $300,000 from the 17 victims who live in areas all over the country.
Johnson was taken into custody by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office charged with Criminal Use of Personal Identification, Bank Fraud, and Grand Theft of a Firearm. He has since been released.
The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending.
According to the Publishers Clearing House website, no payment, fee, tax, or any amount is ever required to claim or receive a prize.