Six Nigerian nationals – three residing in the United Kingdom and three residing in Spain – with operating a large transnational fraud scheme have been charged with wire fraud, according to the Justice Department.
One of the charged defendants made his initial court appearance on Tuesday, this week, after being extradited from the United Kingdom.
The accused – 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 charges in Miami.
Neboh, Ikponmwosa, Abraham, Samuel, and Ozor were arrested in April 2022 by authorities in Madrid and London, based on an indictment filed in the Southern District of Florida, and have remained incarcerated since then while Samuel made his initial appearance in Miami Tuesday. Okey Ezemma remains at large.
According to court documents, the six Nigerians were charged with operating an inheritance fraud scheme and over the course of five years and more, they allegedly sent personalized letters to elderly consumers in the U.S., falsely claiming that the sender was a representative of a bank in Spain and that the recipient was entitled to receive a multimillion-dollar inheritance left for the recipient by a family member who purportedly had died years before in Spain.
The Daily Crucible learnt that victims were told that, before they could receive the purported inheritance, they were required to send money for delivery fees, taxes, and payments to avoid questioning from government authorities. Victims sent money to the defendants through a complex web of U.S.-based former victims, whom the defendants convinced to serve as money mules.
According to the indictment record, victims who sent money never received their purported inheritance funds.
“Schemes that prey on the elderly are particularly insidious,” Principal Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said.
According to the Postal Inspector in Charge Juan A. Vargas for the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Miami Division, “The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will pursue and prosecute transnational criminals who defraud U.S. consumers, wherever they are located. I thank the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom for their tireless efforts in assisting U.S. authorities to find and arrest these individuals so that they may face charges here in the United States.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a long tradition of protecting citizens from these types of schemes and bringing those responsible to justice.”
The defendants were said to be involved in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as mail fraud and wire fraud.
Emmanuel Samuel made his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Neboh, Ikponmwosa, Abraham, and Ozor remain in extradition proceedings. If convicted, Samuel faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
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