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Nigerian E-mail Scam Artists Indicted

U.S. authorities Thursday indicted four individuals currently being held in the Netherlands for running an e-mail scam targeting U.S. Internet users.

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), the four men allegedly sent spam to "thousands" of potential victims in what is known as an advance fee scheme. The DoJ claims the men falsely claimed to have control of millions of dollars belonging to an individual with a terminal illness.

The defendants allegedly used e-mail to solicit the help of potential victims to collect and distribute the funds to charity. In exchange for the victims' help, according to the indictment, the men promised the victims a share of a large inheritance.

In order to claim the share, the victims were asked to pay a variety of advance fees for legal representation, taxes or bogus documentation.

"The defendants in this scheme allegedly fleeced many unsuspecting American victims with promises of charitable contributions and personal riches," U.S. Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher said in a statement. "We cannot allow these scam artists to prey on innocent victims in this country, and we will work across the globe to knock out these fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes."

Three of the defendants named in the 11-count indictment -- two of whom were Nigerian citizens residing in the Netherlands -- were arrested in Amsterdam by Dutch authorities on Feb. 21 based on a criminal complaint filed in the United States.

The fourth defendant, also a Nigerian citizen, is a fugitive.

Named in the indictments were Nnamdi Chizuba Anisiobi (a.k.a Yellowman, Abdul Rahman, Michael Anderson, Edmund Walter, Helmut Schkinger, Nancy White, Jiggaman and Namo); Anthony Friday Ehis (a.k.a John J. Smith, Toni N. Amokwu and Mr. T) and Kesandu Egwuonwu (a.k.a KeKe, Joey Martin Maxwell, David Mark).

Dutch authorities are holding the three men pending extradition to the United States.

"Global fraudsters need to know that we are determined to find and prosecute them," said U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf. "Potential victims need to know that any e-mail offering millions of dollars that requires that they send money to receive this windfall is a scheme. Delete it."