U.S. prosecutors indict 10 as e-mail scamming suspects

Those scamsters who flood computer inboxes promising wealth to the unwary are facing criminal actions in the United States.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said Monday that 10 defendants have been indicted on federal charges of running an advance fee scheme that targeted victims in the United States with promises of millions of dollars in inheritances – but only if they paid money up front to facilitate the transfer of the promised bequests.

Three of the defendants accused in the scheme that took in more than $1.5 million from victims around the United States were arraigned Monday morning in U. S. District Court, where they pleaded innocent and were ordered to stand trial later this year.

The lead defendant is a Nigerian national, the U.S.
Attorney’s Office said. This type of crime is called the Nigerian 419 scam, which references the section of the Nigerian criminal code that deals with fraud.

The senders of the e-mails falsely claimed to have control of millions of dollars in inheritance money in Nigeria, and they falsely told victims they would receive inheritance money if the victims paid a variety of advance fees for “taxes” or “documentation,” according to court documents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The criminals claimed to be attorneys, bankers, diplomats or other government officials, all of which was designed to convince victims they were dealing with legitimate professionals.

The indictment alleges that the accused lured victims, mostly elderly, by initially demanding relatively small amounts of money. Once the victims paid the modest amounts, they were asked to wire increasingly larger amounts – as much as $35,000, according to the court documents.

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