News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

Claimed He Needed ‘Investors’ to get Nigerian Inheritance Funds from Canada

June 29, 2011

SCOTT ALAN STUART, 51, of Blaine, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to wire fraud and four counts of willful failure to file tax returns. The case presents a strange wrinkle on a well known internet scam involving an alleged Nigerian inheritance. 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 $3.2 million from investors across the country. STUART will be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on October 28, 2011.

Between 2003, and 2010, STUART convinced dozens of people across the country 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.

Wire Fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $1,000,000 fine. Willful failure to file a tax return is punishable by up to one year in prison.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma.




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