Nigerian National Pleads Guilty to Role in Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Nigerian national pleaded guilty today to receipt of stolen money in connection with a fraud and money laundering scheme that defrauded at least 200 victims, many of whom are elderly, of at least $2.5 million.
According to court documents and statements made in court, John Nassy, 29, admitted to participating in the scheme from June 2018 until at least May 2019 while he attended college in Huntington. Other members of the conspiracy created online false personas and contacted victims via email, text messaging or online dating and social media websites. The conspirators sought to induce the victims into believing they were in a romantic relationship, friendship, or business relationship with various false personas. The victims were persuaded to send money for a variety of false and fraudulent reasons for the benefit of the false personas. Nassy admitted that he let victims transfer at least $148,000 to his bank accounts that he knew was from unlawful activity.
Nassy further admitted that after the victims’ funds were deposited in his accounts, he kept some of the money for himself and forwarded some of the money to his co-conspirators via the Zelle digital payments network. Nassy also transferred money to bank accounts located in Nigeria.
Nassy is among 10 men charged in four separate indictments with various fraud-related crimes in connection with the scheme. Six co-defendants have pleaded guilty. Charges remain pending against the other co-defendants. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Nassy is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Nassy also agrees that he owes $148,000 in restitution.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), the West Virginia State Police and the South Charleston Police Department.
United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson is prosecuting the case.
The public is encouraged to report potential online fraud activity or scams at https://www.ic3.gov/.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 10am-6pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:21-cr-68.