Nigerian man imprisoned on false promise of fortune

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A Nigerian man was sentenced Friday to nearly 13 years in prison for helping to mastermind an "advance-fee" scheme built on the promise of riches.

Sitting in Bridgeport, Conn., U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall sentenced Okpako Diamreyan, 31, to 151 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, federal prosecutors said in a news release. He also was ordered to pay $1.02 million in restitution as reimbursement for victims.

Diamreyan, who pleaded guilty in February to three counts of wire fraud, delivered "numerous" bogus emails that falsely informed recipients he had control of a consignment in Ghana, containing amounts between $11.5 million and $23.4 million. He promised them a 20 percent cut if they helped him move the money to the United States, but first required they pay fees in connection with the transfer.

In total, 67 victims fell for the scam, prosecutors said. Diamreyan directly was responsible for bilking his marks out of $1.3 million. He used fake names and documentation to lend credibility to the ruse.

“This defendant and his accomplices preyed on vulnerable victims in Connecticut, the United States and around the world, leaving many individuals and their families in financial ruin,” U.S. Attorney for Connecticut David Fein said. “The lengthy prison term imposed today should send a strong message to others who intend to commit similar crimes — we will pursue these cases wherever they lead us and bring you to justice."

In April 2009, a federal judge in New York sentenced two Nigerians and a French citizen for their roles in a similar scam.

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