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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Serial Fraudster Convicted of Participating in Lottery Scam

NORFOLK, Va. – A woman with a criminal history that includes previously participating in a fake lottery scam, pleaded guilty today to fraud charges related to her role in a recent Jamaican lottery scam.

“Kochuga and her co-conspirators lied, cheated, and stole from their victims out of greed,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia. “The financial and emotional harm these scams cause elderly victims and their family members can be utterly devastating. This prosecution should stand as a warning to others considering scamming vulnerable victims: We will not tolerate this criminal activity and will continue to prosecute these cases federally.”

According to court documents, Nena Kerny Kochuga, 44, of Virginia Beach, received tens of thousands of dollars from victims around the United States. These victims had been contacted over the phone and told by conspirators that they had won a multi-million dollar lottery. The conspirators would then tell the victims that, in order to receive their winnings, they had to mail or wire money for taxes to Kochuga in Virginia Beach. Kochuga would keep a portion of the money for herself, and wire the rest of the money to conspirators in Jamaica and other countries. Prior to this criminal conduct, Kochuga had been convicted for the same exact scheme in Virginia Beach Circuit Court. 

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the Postal Service is not used to perpetuate predatory schemes that target vulnerable victims,” said Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division. “We are committed to protecting our customers from being defrauded of everything they’ve worked so hard to attain.”

Kochuga pleaded guilty to mail fraud and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on September 30. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth M. Yusi is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-cr-22.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated May 23, 2019