Two Nigerian nationals Jerry Ozor and Iheanyichukwu Abraham who had been extradited from the UK previously entered a guilty plea in a global fraud scheme that defrauded elderly Americans.
A multinational inheritance fraud scam was run by two Nigerian nationals who were deported to the United States from the United Kingdom.
Jerry Ozor Chucks, 43, and Iheanyichukwu Abraham Jonathan, 44, allegedly belonged to a group of con artists who sent personalized letters to elderly victims in the United States while falsely claiming to be a representative of a bank in Spain and that the recipient was entitled to a multimillion-dollar inheritance left for the recipient by a family member who had passed away in Spain years earlier.
Victims were informed that in order to collect their alleged inheritance, they had to contribute money for delivery costs, taxes, and other expenses in order to avoid being questioned by government officials. Through a convoluted network of former victims with U.S. addresses, victims donated money to the defendants.
These past victims were persuaded by the defendants to accept money from new victims and then distribute the fraud proceeds to other people (acting as “money mules”).
The defendants admitted, as part of their plea agreement, that they had stolen more than $6 million from more than 400 victims, many of whom were elderly or in other vulnerable situations.
Wherever they may be, the Consumer Protection Branch of the Justice Department will seek out, prosecute, and achieve the convictions of transnational criminals who defraud American consumers. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, expressed gratitude to the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom for its substantial efforts in assisting in making sure that these defendants are held accountable here in the United States.
To bring criminals who attempt to defraud American victims from abroad to justice, the Justice Department and U.S. law enforcement will keep up their strong cooperation with law enforcement partners across the world.
Postal Inspector in Charge Juan A. Vargas of the USPIS Miami Division noted that the USPIS “has a long tradition of protecting American citizens from these types of schemes and bringing those responsible to justice.”
The Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have worked together diligently to safeguard our citizens from these scams, as evidenced by the guilty pleas.
“These guilty pleas are the result of the steadfast dedication and countless hours spent by HSI and our judicial partners to ensure that this probe led to the extradition of the two Nigerian nationals,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona.
Operating a global conspiracy of inheritance fraud that preys on the elderly is not only immoral, but it also jeopardizes the stability of the financial systems we rely on. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this case. One more step will bring these two defendants’ well-deserved prison sentences closer.
Ozor entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud on May 18. Earlier today, Abraham entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. On July 27, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams will sentence Ozor. On August 9, Judge Williams will sentence Abraham. The maximum sentence for both defendants is 20 years in prison.
The situation is being looked into by the Consumer Protection Branch, USPIS, and HSI.
The Consumer Protection Branch of the Civil Division is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Senior Trial Attorney Phil Toomajian, Trial Attorneys Josh Rothman, and Trial Attorney Brianna Gardner. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Europol, and law enforcement agencies from the U.K., Spain, and Portugal all made significant contributions.