US court sentenced Nigerian man, others to prison for $2.6 million fraud
A Nigerian man, Okechukwu Iwuji, has been convicted and sentenced to prison for his involvement in an advance fee and money laundering scheme.
The verdict was delivered by Shawn Anderson, a representative from the US Attorney’s Office in Guam, who stated that the criminal activity targeted a total of 60 victims, predominantly residing in Guam.
Iwuji, aged 38, along with two other accomplices, Sally Roberto, Mekayda D. Jones, and Monique Jones, were found guilty of orchestrating a fraudulent operation that involved swindling investors based in Guam out of approximately $2.6 million.
The victims were coerced into making payments for fabricated fees in pursuit of a purported multimillion-dollar inheritance.
Iwuji, previously residing in Orlando, Florida, received a 45-month prison sentence and a three-year supervised release. He was also required to pay a forfeiture money judgement of $475,710, $100 in assessment fees, and $475,710 in restitution.
He was sentenced on Thursday, August 17, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As part of the conspiracy, Iwuji obtained at least $475,710 of victim funds from Roberto and other co-conspirators and transferred some funds to third-party Nigerian bank accounts.
Sally Roberto, 56, hailing from Santa Rita, received a 33-month prison sentence along with three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,030,990, a mandatory assessment fee of $3,900, and a forfeiture money judgement of $1,030,990.
Monique Jones, another co-conspirator, was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment with an additional three years of supervised release. She was directed to make restitution payments of $578,130, a mandatory assessment fee of $2,700, and a forfeiture money judgement of $1,111,280.
Mekayda D. Jones, age 24, from Dallas, Texas, was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $387,160 in restitution, a $1,600.00 mandatory assessment fee, and an $801,210 forfeiture money judgement. She was sentenced on August 15, 2023, after a jury found her guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
As part of the conspiracy, Monique and Mekayda Jones perpetuated the fraud by maintaining bank accounts in the names of shell corporations.
These accounts were used to receive, withdraw, and transfer funds from victims to other co-conspirators, both in the United States and Nigeria. In exchange, they kept at least 10 percent of victim funds that flowed into bank accounts under their control.
Attorney Anderson held that “This far-ranging conspiracy preyed on 60 victims, nearly all of whom live in Guam. These scams are difficult to investigate and prosecute due to the interstate and transnational nature of criminal activity.
“Our success in this matter is the result of a team effort across multiple jurisdictions, with outstanding leadership by prosecutor David. We will continue to pursue the collection of restitution for those harmed by the defendant’s conduct. The public must remain vigilant against this type of fraud.”
Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Steven Merrill stated that the FBI will continue to closely monitor similar cases and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
Merrill, however, urged the public to exercise caution and scepticism, noting that offers that seem too good to be true likely are.
“If it is too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel you have been scammed, please contact the FBI at (800) 225-5324 (CALL-FBI) or report it to tips.fbi.gov,” he stated