Okechukwu Iwuji, a Nigerian, and two of his accomplices have been sentenced to two years in prison in the United States following their conviction in a major fraud case involving over $2.6 million.
Shawn Anderson, a representative from the US Attorney’s Office in Guam, announced that Iwuji, aged 38, and his co-conspirators Sally Roberto, 56, from Santa Rita, and Monique Jones, 49, from Dallas, Texas, have been found guilty of orchestrating a sophisticated advance fee and money laundering scam. This scheme involved duping investors based in Guam to pay false fees for an imaginary multimillion-dollar inheritance.
The verdict was reached after thorough investigation and legal proceedings. On Tuesday and Thursday, the defendants were each sentenced for their roles in the fraudulent activities.
Okechukwu Iwuji, who previously lived in Orlando, Florida, has been sentenced to serve 45 months in prison. In addition, he will be under supervised release for three years after serving his sentence. He is also required to make restitution payments amounting to $475,710 and is subject to a $100 mandatory assessment fee. Furthermore, Iwuji is facing a forfeiture money judgment of $475,710. He had pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to wire fraud.
The extensive scam affected around 60 victims, the majority of whom were residents of Guam. “These scams are difficult to investigate and prosecute due to the interstate and transnational nature of the criminal activity. Our success in this matter is the result of a team effort across multiple jurisdictions, with outstanding leadership by prosecutor David,” stated Shawn Anderson from the US Attorney’s Office. He emphasized the importance of staying vigilant against such fraudulent schemes.
The intricate scheme involved Iwuji obtaining a substantial sum of victim funds, totaling at least $475,710, which were transferred to third-party Nigerian bank accounts, as part of the conspiracy. Sally Roberto, one of the co-conspirators, has been sentenced to 33 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She is obligated to make restitution payments of $1,030,990, along with a $3,900 mandatory assessment fee. Additionally, a forfeiture money judgment of $1,030,990 has been imposed on her.
Mekayda Jones, another accomplice, has been sentenced to serve 36 months in prison. Her supervised release period is set at three years, during which she must pay restitution totaling $387,160. An additional mandatory assessment fee of $1,600 has been mandated, along with a forfeiture money judgment of $801,210.
Lastly, Monique Jones, who played a role in the fraudulent scheme, has been handed a 48-month prison sentence, followed by three years of supervised release. She is obligated to make restitution payments of $578,130, and a mandatory assessment fee of $2,700 has been imposed on her. Moreover, a forfeiture money judgment of $1,111,280 has been levied against her.
Special Agent Steven Merrill from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reassured the public that the FBI would actively monitor similar cases to ensure that culprits are brought to justice. “This sentence should make the public aware that these types of advance fees, associated with inheritance scams, will be investigated by the FBI and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If it is too good to be true, it probably is,” Merrill cautioned.
The convictions serve as a stern warning against falling prey to such fraudulent schemes and underscore the commitment of law enforcement agencies to curbing financial crimes.