Kennedy Ikponmwosa, Iheanyichukwu Jonathan Abraham, and Jerry Chucks Ozor are accused of running an inheritance fraud operation, through which they scammed elderly United States (US) citizens of their funds.
According to the US Department of Justice, the suspects have sent personalised letters to elderly consumers in the United States for over five years, falsely claiming to be representatives of a bank in Spain. Recipients of these letters were deceived into thinking they were entitled to a multimillion-dollar inheritance left by a family member who purportedly died years before in Spain.
“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. 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,” the justice department wrote.
The victims, however, never received these purported funds.
Ikponmwosa, Abraham, and Ozor, along with two others, were arrested in April 2022 by authorities in Madrid and London and have remained incarcerated since then.
Now extradited to the US, Ikponmwosa, from Spain, has appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres on April 18, while Abraham and Ozor, extradited from the United Kingdom on Friday, are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eduardo I. Sanchez in Miami on Monday.
Ikponmwosa, Abraham, and Ozor are being prosecuted by Phil Toomajian, Josh Rothman and Brianna Gardner, senior trial attorney and trial attorneys of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, respectively.
If convicted, the trio will each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison per count.
Scot Brown, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigation, was quoted to have said: “This case is an example of how Postal Inspectors will vigorously pursue fraudsters and ensure that they are brought to justice for the crimes they have committed.
“These extraditions prove that by pulling law enforcement agencies together, we can best focus on investigating individuals and illicit criminal organizations associated with foreign-based fraud schemes that disproportionately affect vulnerable seniors.”