HAINES CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida couple took a gamble with an online lottery scheme and now face hundreds of criminal counts, according to police.
The couple, 33-year-old Dexter Rhodes and 27-year-old Deget Lane, face more than 300 counts of illegally setting up, promoting and/or conducting a lottery.
“It was all set up on Facebook. People could get online and play, what they thought they were going to play, Bingo,” Haines City Police Chief Jim Elensky said.
Beginning in April, police say the Polk County pair hosted games on the “Lavish Life Bingo” Facebook page. Participants would pay as much as $45 to enter and officers say Rhodes and Lane would use a Bingo app to randomly pick winners.
“BINGOOOOO goes to players Number 15, Jeanne and Kendra. Y’all are the $400 winner. You will split it. You’ll be receiving $200 each,” a man is heard saying on a Facebook live video provided by Haines City Police.
“They would make several hundred dollars in three minutes, three minutes for a game and then your prize was usually $500 less than that. So quickly they would pocket $500,” said Chief Elensky.
Instructions on the Facebook page directed participants to send “donations” via Cash App, Venmo or Zelle, according to the arrest affidavit.
“When Rhodes and Lane used the word ‘donation,’ they are attempting to disguise the criminal nature of these payments to pay their lottery,” the arrest affidavit reads.
“(With) bingo, you have to have a 501(3)(c) license which they do not have. A lottery is set up much like the lottery you’re familiar with in the State of Florida. It is a profit-making machine. Bingo, you’re not allowed to make a profit,” said Chief Elensky.
Haines City police officers discovered the activity while monitoring Rhodes’ online activity. He was out on bond on narcotics charges at the time.
“We’re looking at his Facebook. There you are, in the wide open. This is what we’re doing. So in essence, he’s inviting law enforcement to come join us, so we joined,” said Chief Elensky.
Rhodes’ criminal record includes more than 30 arrests, involving drug charges and shoplifting.
“He has continued to make money from unsuspecting folks throughout this Facebook scam so what that would lead to, when people of this caliber get a bunch of money coming in, basically free money, that gives the ability to buy more dope, sell more dope,” said Chief Elensky.
In court Thursday, a judge revoked Rhodes’ bond on his previous charges due to his new arrests, citing Parker v. State.
Lane’s bond was set at $1,000 per count for the lottery charges. She’s charged with 251 counts.
This was Lane’s fifth arrest in Polk County, according to Haines City Police.