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Three British based criminals sentenced in US over inheritance scam

Three men who preyed on the elderly and vulnerable in an inheritance fraud causing losses worth millions of dollars have been sentenced to more than 21 years in prison after pleading guilty in the United States.

Jonathan Iheanyichukwu Abraham, Emmanuel Samuel and Jerry Chucks Ozor, all in their forties and originally from Nigeria, were arrested in south London by NCA officers in April 2022.

Jerry Ozor, Emmanuel Samuel and Jonathan Abraham

The NCA’s Complex Financial Crime Team worked with US partners, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office, to secure their extraditions earlier this year.

Further suspects with a role in the fraud were arrested by Spanish authorities in Madrid, while linked enforcement activity also took place in Portugal.

After details emerged of an international network of fraudsters working together to steal millions, National Crime Agency investigators worked closely with the US Department of Justice, US Postal Inspection Service and European partners to coordinate the international activity, locate and arrest suspects, and secure evidence.

The fraud was committed by sending unexpected letters to people to tell them that a long lost relative had passed away and that they were in line to inherit their assets.

Victims were drawn in to further communications where they would then be persuaded to pay charges and costs to release the assets.

Thousands of victims, primarily in the US, were targeted and fraud worth millions of dollars has already been identified.

Gary Cathcart, Head of Financial Investigation at the NCA, said: “This was a transnational, high harm fraud, where a dispersed network of ruthless criminals worked together to identify and target victims, inflicting life changing damage to vulnerable people.

“International cooperation is essential to tackle such criminals; by working with our partners we can disrupt fraud and better protect the public.”

Millions of people are targeted by scam messages, letters or phone calls like this every year. So if something seems suspicious or unexpected, such as requests for money or information, contact the organisation directly to check. Use contact details from their official website, not those given in the message, letter, email or a telephone call.

It is easy to report fraud or cyber crime, contact Action Fraud - or call 0300 123 2040. In Scotland, report to Police Scotland by calling 101. If you are a victim of fraud, report it to your bank as soon as possible. Reporting fraud enables your bank to investigate and take action to protect your account.

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