A 39-year-old Nigerian national, Emmanuel Samuel, who was previously extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom, was sentenced to 82 months in prison for his role in a transnational inheritance fraud scheme.
According to court documents, Samuel, was part of a group of fraudsters that sent personalized letters to elderly victims in the United States, 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 had died years before in Portugal.
Earlier this year, Samuel, along with Iheanyichukwu Jonathan Abraham and Jerry Chucks Ozor, were extradited from the United Kingdom and made appearances before U.S Magistrate Judge Eduardo I. Sanchez in Miami.
The victims were told that before they could receive their purported inheritance, they were required to send money for delivery fees, taxes, and payments to avoid questioning from government authorities.
The victims sent money to the defendants through a complex web of U.S.-based former victims. The defendants convinced these former victims to receive money from new victims and then forward the fraud proceeds to others.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will continue to pursue, prosecute, and bring to justice transnational criminals responsible for defrauding U.S. consumers, wherever they are located,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
“Working together, U.S. and foreign law enforcement can and will thwart schemes such as the one charged in this case and prevent further loss to American victims.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has a long tradition of protecting American citizens from these types of schemes and bringing those responsible to justice,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Juan A. Vargas of the USPIS Miami Division.
“This result is a testament to the dedicated partnership between the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the USPIS, to protect our citizens from these scams.”
“In my law enforcement career, I’ve investigated and arrested countless criminals involved in abhorrent activity but nothing measures to supporting HSI agents as they dismantle organizations in foreign countries whose sole purpose is targeting unsuspecting elderly victims to steal their money,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown of HSI Arizona.
“I thank every agent that worked tirelessly to ensure these criminals are brought to justice for their actions – families are forever impacted all because of these felons’ actions as they targeted the elderly causing pain and financial ruin.”
U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams sentenced Samuel on June 21, 2023 in Miami. She also ordered Samuel to make restitution payments to victims of his offenses.
Two additional co-defendants, Jonathan Abraham and Jerry Ozor, previously were convicted in the case. They are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Williams in the coming months.
The Consumer Protection Branch, USPIS, and HSI are investigating the case.
Senior Trial Attorney Phil Toomajian and Trial Attorneys Josh Rothman and Brianna Gardner of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, Europol, and authorities from the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal all provided critical assistance.