In a recent court decision, four defendants have been sentenced for their involvement in an advance fee fraud and money laundering scheme. The scheme involved fraudulently obtaining approximately $2.6 million by convincing victims in Guam to pay bogus fees and expenses related to a multimillion-dollar inheritance before promising them any funds. The defendants were found guilty of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The court ordered them to pay various amounts in restitution and imposed prison sentences ranging from 33 to 48 months. This case highlights the importance of remaining vigilant against fraud scams and the commitment of law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting such crimes.
Defendants Sentenced for Advance Fee Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
In a recent development, four defendants have been sentenced in the United States District Court of Guam for their involvement in an advance fee fraud and money laundering scheme. This criminal enterprise fraudulently obtained approximately $2,600,000 from victim-investors based in Guam. The defendants were charged with inducing these victims to pay bogus fees and expenses under the false promise of receiving multimillion-dollar inheritance funds.
Overview of the Scheme
The defendants in this case successfully deceived victim-investors into paying a total of $2,600,000. The scheme involved enticing the victims with the promise of substantial inheritance funds. However, in order to collect these funds, the victims were led to believe that they had to first pay various fees and expenses. These fees were completely fabricated and served only to enrich the defendants.
Sentences and Charges
Each of the defendants involved in the advance fee fraud and money laundering scheme has received a sentence commensurate with their actions and involvement in the criminal enterprise. This section will provide an overview of the sentences and charges for each defendant.
Sally Cruz Roberto’s Sentence
Sally Cruz Roberto, aged 56 and from Santa Rita, Guam, has been sentenced to 33 months imprisonment. She will also serve three years of supervised release. Additionally, Roberto has been ordered to pay $1,030,990 in restitution to the victims. Furthermore, she must pay a mandatory assessment fee of $3,900 and a forfeiture money judgment of $1,030,990.
Monique Jones’s Sentence
Monique Jones, aged 49 and from Dallas, Texas, has been sentenced to 48 months imprisonment. Like Roberto, she will serve three years of supervised release. Jones has been ordered to pay $578,130 in restitution to the victims. She will also pay a mandatory assessment fee of $2,700 and a forfeiture money judgment of $1,111,280.
Mekayda D. Jones’s Sentence
Mekayda D. Jones, aged 24 and from Dallas, Texas, has been sentenced to 36 months imprisonment. Similarly, she will serve three years of supervised release. Jones has been ordered to pay $387,160 in restitution to the victims. She will also pay a mandatory assessment fee of $1,600 and a forfeiture money judgment of $801,210.
Okechukwu F. Iwuji’s Sentence
Okechukwu F. Iwuji, aged 38 and a Nigerian citizen who previously resided in Orlando, Florida, has been sentenced to 45 months imprisonment. He too will serve three years of supervised release. Iwuji has been ordered to pay $475,710 in restitution to the victims. He will also pay a mandatory assessment fee of $100 and a forfeiture money judgment of $475,710.
Details of the Conspiracy
In executing the advance fee fraud and money laundering scheme, Monique and Mekayda Jones played a crucial role. They maintained bank accounts in the names of shell corporations, which facilitated the receipt, withdrawal, and transfer of victim funds to other co-conspirators in the United States and Nigeria. As part of their involvement, they retained at least 10 percent of the victim funds that flowed into the accounts they controlled. This allowed them to benefit personally from their criminal activity.
Statements from Officials
United States Attorney Anderson has highlighted the challenging nature of investigating and prosecuting scams of this nature. Due to the interstate and transnational aspects of these criminal activities, they present unique investigative and legal hurdles. Anderson emphasized the collaborative effort across jurisdictions that led to the successful prosecution of these defendants. He also pledged to continue seeking restitution on behalf of the victims affected by this scheme.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Merrill has issued a warning to the public, urging caution and vigilance regarding fraud and scams. He emphasized that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Merrill encouraged individuals who believe they have been scammed to report it to the FBI or utilize other reporting channels available to them. The contact information for reporting scams has been provided for the public’s convenience.
In conclusion, the sentencing of the four defendants involved in the advance fee fraud and money laundering scheme marks a significant step in holding them accountable for their actions. The sentences handed down demonstrate the seriousness of these crimes. They also serve as a deterrent to others who may consider engaging in similar fraudulent activities. It is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicions of fraud or scams to the appropriate authorities. Together, we can combat these offenses and protect innocent individuals from falling victim to these schemes.