United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Blaine Man Who Collected Millions With Version Of “Nigerian Inheritance” Scam Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison
Claimed He Needed ‘Investors’ to get Nigerian Inheritance Funds from Canada
SCOTT ALAN STUART, 51, of Blaine, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud and four counts of willful failure to file tax returns, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. STUART will owe millions of dollars in court ordered restitution. The exact amount will be determined in the next two months. STUART convinced various investors across the country to send him money so he could claim a Nigerian inheritance from a bank in Canada. STUART represented to investors that his father had made millions constructing an oil pipeline in Nigeria. STUART claimed that his inheritance from his father was in a bank in Canada, and that if investors provided enough money to pay the taxes, he would be able to access $30,000,000, and investors would get a large return on their investment. There was no inheritance or Canadian bank account. STUART collected more than $3.8 million from investors across the country. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted that STUART was originally a victim of the well-known Nigerian scam, and then turned around and victimized others. STUART used some of the money “feeding a serious drug problem and gambling significant sums away at casinos,” Judge Lasnik said.
Between 2003, and 2010, STUART convinced dozens of people across the country to provide him with what he called “loans,” so that he could access the alleged inheritance. He promised to pay the loans back quickly with an extraordinary rate of return. STUART claims he sent some $200,000 to the Nigerians or their middle men in the U.S. to try to access the “inheritance.” However, the bulk of the money STUART collected from others was used for his own expenses. Some people wired as much as $45,000 to STUART in hopes of a big payday when his “inheritance” came though. Various investors convinced their friends to participate as well, believing that if STUART had just a bit more money, he would be able to access the large inheritance.
“The defendant was a predator, a manipulator and opportunist who exploited people for his own personal gain,” prosecutors told the judge.
“My message to victim groups is be skeptical,” Judge Lasnik said. “Keep your guard up. People are waiting to prey on your trusting nature and your kindness.”
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma.