Nigerian Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Sweepstakes Scheme
Judge Sentences Nigerian National to 15 Months in Prison
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States District Court Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. sentenced Kingsley I. Ekpendu, a Nigerian national, to 15 months in prison yesterday for his participation in a sweepstakes scheme that resulted in over 50 victims sending him cash in the mail, announced United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman.
Ekpendu, 42, was charged in an indictment and pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud. As part of the plea agreement, Ekpendu, who is a United States Permanent Resident, agreed to his removal from the United States after the completion of his 15-month prison sentence. Chief Judge McKinley also ordered Ekpendu to pay $257,916.15 in restitution to victims of the scheme.
According to the plea agreement, from on or about February 22, 2016, through October 4, 2017, Ekpendu participated in a scheme to defraud victims by making them believe they had won a sweepstakes or lottery. Ekpendu and others mailed letters to potential victims around the nation. Each letter stated the recipient had won a lottery or sweepstakes prize, listed a phone number for a “claims manager,” and included a check for several thousand dollars to cover “insurance and legal fees.” When the victim called the “claims manager,” the “claims manager” would tell the victim that in order to receive the prize, the victim needed to deposit the check and send several thousand dollars cash to an address in Louisville, Kentucky. The defendant would then pick up the parcels containing cash from the Louisville address, keeping a share of the cash for himself and sending the remainder to other participants in the scheme. Ultimately, the checks Ekpendu and others mailed to the victims were fraudulent, but the victims would not realize this until after they had sent cash to the Louisville address and it was too late for them to recover the funds.
Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Gregory prosecuted the case. The United States Postal Inspection Service and the Louisville Metro Police Department conducted the investigation.