VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A 61-year-old Virginia Beach woman is accused of scheming elderly people out of tens of thousands of dollars between September 2019 and March 2021.
Court records state Terry Lynn Miller told the elderly victims that they had won a sweepstakes, the lottery, a luxury automobile or other items and that they had to pay taxes and fees in order to receive the winnings.
They say that the victims were notified by phone or email that they had won millions of dollars.
The victims were then directed to mail the defendant thousands of dollars in payments for the taxes and fees at her residence in Virginia Beach.
Records state that Miller mailed some victims a briefcase with a combination lock, which the victims were told contained their winnings. They were reportedly told that they would be given the combination to open the briefcase once they had paid the taxes and fees, but federal authorities say the briefcases actually contained newspapers and a phonebook.
In September 2019, a victim known only as "L.S." in court records was then 67 years old and living in Texas. Records say L.S. mailed the defendant a money order for $250 to her Virginia Beach address, and the United States Postal Service intercepted the mailing before the defendant received it.
Another elderly victim from Illinois known only as "M.G." allegedly received an e-mail informing her that she had won $5.5 million in a Mega Millions lottery and a 2019 Mercedes Benz and that she must pay taxes and fees to receive her winnings.
Records say between November 2019 and January 2020, the defendant deposited approximately $56,784.23 in money orders and checks from M.G. into the defendant's personal bank accounts. M.G.'s son later broke open the briefcase and found it to contain only newspapers.
In late 2019 or early 2020, victim "O.L.," who was then 80 years old and living in Illinois, was allegedly told on the telephone that he had won $800,000 in a Reader's Digest sweepstakes and would need to first pay taxes before getting his winnings, according to court records. Records state between February 2020 and July 2020, the defendant deposited approximately $9,450 in money orders from O.L. into the defendant's personal bank accounts.
Another elderly couple from Colorado allegedly sent Miller $86,000 in hopes of unlocking their Mega Millions winnings.
In February 2021, an 82-year-old victim in California mailed the suspect two checks totaling almost $60,000 after being told he won $8.5 million in a Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes, but his money was intercepted by law enforcement before they reached Miller.
The court documents list six unidentified elderly victims.
Records state that as a result of the conspiracy, the defendant attempted to defraud the victims of at least $240,682.91 and actually defrauded them of at least $171,933.68.
Miller is currently out on bond and is facing mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.
News 3 has reached out to her public defender, who said she had no comment about the accusations.