Former Canadian MoneyGram And Western Union Agent Sentenced On Fraud And Money Laundering Conspiracy Charges
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a former Western Union and MoneyGram agent,
Chima Nneji, age 55, of Toronto, Canada, was sentenced by Chief United States District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner in Harrisburg, to 45 months in prison for conspiring to defraud hundreds of American residents out of more than $900,000 via mass marketing consumer fraud schemes.
Chief Judge Conner also ordered Nneji to pay restitution in the amount of $381,729. The lower restitution amount is due in part to monies compensated to victims as part of the U.S. v. MoneyGram deferred prosecution agreement which established a $100 million restitution fund for MoneyGram customers that were victims of consumer fraud.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, in September 2012, Chima Nneji conspired with his codefendant brother, William Nneji, codefendant Alex Mgbolu, and other unnamed individuals between July 2002 and May 2010 to commit the crimes. Chima Nneji was extradited to the United States from Canada and was arraigned on his charges in Harrisburg in July 2015.
Chima Nneji was the owner/operator of a Western Union agency called Advanced Computer and a MoneyGram agency known as Hallmark Services, in Toronto, Canada. Between November 2004 and April of 2007, international mass marketing fraudsters instructed hundreds of consumer fraud victims across the United States to send Western Union and MoneyGram money transfers to Advanced Computer Service and Hallmark Services. The transfers were then paid out by Chima Nneji, and his brother. Nneji and his brother cashed out the money transfers in a manner that maintained the anonymity of the fraudsters, by entering false names and identification data into the Western Union and MoneyGram computer data bases. Analysts from the Toronto Police Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service determined that over 90% of the payee addresses and identification numbers entered at Advanced Computer Service and Hallmark Services were invalid. For his role in the scheme, Chima Nneji retained a portion of the money transfers before sending the balance of the funds on to the fraudsters.
Law enforcement personnel sent questionnaires to hundreds of MoneyGram customers in the United States whose $1,000 plus money transfers were paid out at Hallmark Services. Not a single sender reported that their transfer was sent for a legitimate purpose. One hundred ninety-eight customers reported that their money transfers, which totaled $579,436, were fraud-induced. The known total dollar loss associated with all consumer fraud induced money transfers paid out at Advanced Computer Service and Hallmark Services is $915,978.
Codefendant William Nneji is a fugitive from justice. Codefendant Alex Mgbolu pled guilty to the charges before Judge Conner in August 2016, and is awaiting sentencing.
The case is part of an ongoing investigation by the Harrisburg Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel.
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