Cambria Heights pair charged in web scam

By Howard Koplowitz

Two Cambria Heights men were among four Nigerians charged in Brooklyn federal court last Thursday with allegedly running a $2 million Internet scam in which victims were told that they had either won the lottery or inherited millions of dollars from a distant relative, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn said.

Joseph Ifeanyi Ani and Godspower Chidiadi Egbufor, both 32 and U.S. citizens of Nigerian origin living in Cambria Heights, face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Bob Nardoza, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, said.

Ani and Egbufor allegedly sent out a mass e-mail list that falsely advised recipients that they had won a lottery or inherited a fortune and induced victims to wire money into the scammers’ bank accounts to pay for taxes and other fees relating to the windfall, Lynch said.

“Advance fee schemes have been around for decades, and Internet users have paid the price in stolen identities and cash,” she said. “It bears repeating that when a pitch seems too good to be true, it usually is just that. The defendants will now be held to account for their alleged misconduct.”

Among some of the lotteries the scammers told victims they won was the “$5 million Princess Diana Lottery,” Lynch said.

Patrick Ugochukwu Ohazurike, 41, a native of Nigeria and U.S. citizen from Tennessee, and New Jersey resident Kelvin Obi Duncan, 43, were also charged in the scheme, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District said.

After finding a victim, the four men allegedly induced them to open bank accounts and provide detailed personal and bank account information, which the men used to steal victims’ identities, Lynch said.

The men also allegedly persuaded victims to wire money to pay purported taxes and fees tied to the money and sent victims e-mails with letters and notices on phony Internal Revenue Service letterhead to convince victims that the fees were legitimate, the U.S. attorney said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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