Jamaican Telephone Lottery Scammer Jailed for 6 Years After Unwittingly Threatening Former CIA Head

February 13, 2019 Updated: February 13, 2019

A telephone scammer from Jamaica has been jailed for six years after unwittingly picking the wrong person’s wife to threaten with a “sniper bullet”—the only person to have ever been chief of both the FBI and CIA.

Keniel Thomas, 29, called Judge William Webster in June 2014 from Jamaica, saying that he had won a $15.5 million MegaMillions lottery prize, and just needed to hand over $50,000 to cover the tax on the prize.

Unknown to Thomas, Webster had served as director of the FBI and then the CIA under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Webster, who was 90 at at the time, rejected the promise of prize money, declined to pay the $50,000 tax bill, and got in touch with the FBI.

Over the next month, Thomas kept telephoning with various attempts to get the money, in the end threatening Webster’s wife that a sniper would shoot her—unaware that the calls were being eavesdropped on by the investigation bureau that Webster once headed.

Former FBI Director William Webster
Former FBI Director William Webster on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 20, 2004. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Thomas was finally arrested in New York three years later when he made a trip from Jamaica.

In October 2018, he pleaded guilty to trying to extort money, according to the Department of Justice.

On Feb. 8, he was sentenced to 71 months in prison, according to the Department of Justice. He will be deported after he has served his sentence.

Calling himself David Morgan, Thomas first called Webster on June 9, 2014, according to the Department of Justice, telling him he was the head of Mega Millions and that Webster was the winner of $15.5 million and a 2014 Mercedes Benz.

$600,000 in Savings Stolen

Thomas said he needed to pay $50,000 to cover the taxes before the award was provided to him.

Webster contacted the FBI shortly after the call.

The next day, Webster called Thomas back—but with the FBI listening in and recording. At one point he said the claimed the prize was worth $72 million.

“Over the course of the next month, Thomas made numerous calls to [Webster]  in attempts to get the money,” said a statement from Justice. “He also reached the man’s wife and threatened violence if the money was not paid. Among other things, he claimed that he had done surveillance on the couple’s home.”

In one call, cited in court documents, Thomas threatened that a sniper would kill her with a bullet “straight to the head.”

Judge William Webste
Judge William Webster, former FBI and CIA director, stands during the national anthem before a game between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Aug. 7, 2018, in Washington. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

In one phone call recorded by the FBI according to court filings cited by the Telegraph, Thomas said “Anytime you put back yourself in Washington, DC, you will be [explitive] killed. … You live at a very lonely place. And the moment you arrive, I’m gonna put a [expletive] shot in your head. I am going to burn your [expletive] house down.”

According to the Telegraph, Thomas had received at least $300,000 from about three dozen victims through his lottery scam. One victim estimated he had sent Thomas his savings worth more than $600,000.

Ronald Reagan
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan speaks at a rally for Sen.Durenberger (R-Minn.) Feb. 8, 1982. (Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images)

Webster was picked by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to head the CIA in 1987. He had previously served as FBI director for nine years.

Webster, now 94, was in the courtroom with his wife for the sentencing, according to the Washington Post.

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