TUCSON, Ariz. — An indictment was unsealed Feb. 21 charging six Nigerian nationals — three residing in the UK and three residing in Spain — with working a big transnational fraud scheme. One of many charged defendants made his preliminary look Feb. 23 after being extradited from the UK.
“The profitable extradition of the defendant is the results of a dynamic and coordinated investigative effort by HSI, and our regulation enforcement and judicial companions,” stated Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI) Arizona Particular Agent in Cost Scott Brown. “Crimes aimed on the aged have devastating monetary results. HSI will proceed to aggressively examine grasping swindlers who prey on the weak for revenue.”
Ezennia Peter Neboh, 48, Kennedy Ikponmwosa, 51, and Prince Amos Okey Ezemma, 49, of Madrid, Spain; and Iheanyichukwu Jonathan Abraham, 44, Emmanuel Samuel, 39, and Jerry Chucks Ozor, 43, of London, face federal fees in Miami.
Authorities in Madrid and London arrested Neboh, Ikponmwosa, Abraham, Samuel and Ozor in April 2022 primarily based on an indictment filed within the Southern District of Florida. The suspects have remained incarcerated since then. Samuel made his preliminary look in Miami Feb. 23. Okey Ezemma stays at massive.
In accordance with courtroom paperwork, the defendants are charged with working an inheritance fraud scheme. Over the course of greater than 5 years, they allegedly despatched customized letters to aged customers in america, falsely claiming that the sender represented a financial institution in Spain and that the recipient was entitled to obtain a multimillion-dollar inheritance left by a member of the family who purportedly had died years earlier than in Spain. Victims had been instructed that earlier than they might obtain their purported inheritance, they had been required to ship cash for supply charges, taxes and funds to keep away from questioning from authorities authorities. Victims despatched cash to the defendants by way of a posh net of U.S.-based former victims the defendants satisfied to function cash mules. In accordance with the indictment, victims who despatched cash by no means obtained their purported inheritance funds.
“Schemes that prey on the aged are notably insidious,” stated Principal Deputy Lawyer Common Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Division’s Civil Division. “The Division of Justice’s Shopper Safety Department will pursue and prosecute transnational criminals who defraud U.S. customers, wherever they’re situated. I thank the Kingdom of Spain and the UK for his or her tireless efforts in helping U.S. authorities to search out and arrest these people in order that they could face fees right here in america.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has an extended custom of defending residents from these kind of schemes and bringing these accountable to justice,” stated Postal Inspector in Cost Juan A. Vargas for america Postal Inspection Service’s Miami Division. “The indictment unsealed is a testomony of the devoted partnership between the Division of Justice’s Shopper Safety Department, Homeland Safety Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to guard our residents from these scams.”
The defendants are all charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in addition to mail fraud and wire fraud. Emmanuel Samuel made his preliminary courtroom look Feb. 23 earlier than U.S. Justice of the Peace Choose Jonathan Goodman of the U.S. District Court docket for the Southern District of Florida. Neboh, Ikponmwosa, Abraham, and Ozor stay in extradition proceedings. If convicted, Samuel faces a most penalty of 20 years in jail. A federal district courtroom choose will decide any sentence after contemplating the U.S. Sentencing Tips and different statutory elements.
HSI, the Division of Justice’s Shopper Safety Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating the case.
Senior Trial Lawyer Phil Toomajian and Trial Attorneys Josh Rothman and Brianna Gardner of the Shopper Safety Department are prosecuting the case. The Prison Division’s Workplace of Worldwide Affairs, the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace for the Southern District of Florida, Europol, the Portuguese Judicial Police, the UK’s Nationwide Crime Company and the Spanish Nationwide Police all supplied essential help.
When you or somebody you understand is age 60 or older and has been a sufferer of monetary fraud, assist is on the market on the Nationwide Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311). This U.S. Division of Justice hotline, managed by the Workplace for Victims of Crime, is staffed by skilled professionals who present customized help to callers by assessing the wants of the sufferer and figuring out related subsequent steps. Case managers will determine acceptable reporting businesses, present data to callers to help them in reporting, join callers instantly with acceptable businesses, and supply sources and referrals, on a case-by-case foundation. Reporting is step one. Reporting may also help authorities determine those that commit fraud, and reporting sure monetary losses sustained because of fraud as quickly as potential can enhance the probability of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed seven days every week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Japanese time. English, Spanish and different languages can be found.
Listed here are some tricks to keep away from shedding cash to scams:
- Shield your self and older family members by elevating consciousness. Though this may be an uncomfortable matter, be sure you, your loved ones and your folks are conversant in scams. The extra you understand about these scams, the higher ready you might be to forestall being a sufferer.
- Test in on older family members. Scammers are searching for to focus on these dwelling alone or grieving the lack of a partner as they’re extra weak.
- Do your analysis. Analysis the person’s picture and profile utilizing on-line searches to see if the picture, title, or different particulars have been used elsewhere.
- Take heed to your intestine. If the person appears too good to be true, speak to somebody you belief.
- Don’t overshare private data. Requests for inappropriate pictures or monetary data might later be used to extort you.
- Be suspicious when you have not met in particular person. If the person guarantees to satisfy in particular person, however constantly comes up with an excuse for cancelling, be suspicious.
- Don’t ship cash. By no means ship cash to anybody you will have solely communicated with on-line or by telephone.
- Watch out when answering a name. Scammers particularly goal the aged to make the most of their loneliness.
- Don’t journey to international nations to say a “prize” or “inheritance.”
- No U.S. authorities company or financial institution will ask individuals to pay taxes or charges with present playing cards.
Members of the general public can report crime or suspicious exercise by calling the tip line at 866-347-2423 or filling out the online tip form.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed harmless till confirmed responsible past an affordable doubt in a courtroom of regulation.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Division of Homeland Safety (DHS), answerable for investigating transnational crime and threats, particularly these prison organizations that exploit the worldwide infrastructure by way of which worldwide commerce, journey, and finance transfer. HSI’s workforce of greater than 8,700 staff consists of greater than 6,000 particular brokers assigned to 237 cities all through america, and 93 abroad areas in 56 nations. HSI’s worldwide presence represents DHS’s largest investigative regulation enforcement presence overseas and one of many largest worldwide footprints in U.S. regulation enforcement.