Federal Way, Washington man indicted for abusive sexual contact on a flight from San Diego to Seattle
Seattle – A Georgia prison inmate who was indicted in Western Washington for a telephone fraud scheme pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to impersonate a federal officer, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Robert “Bo” Nnanwubas, 29, was incarcerated at Calhoun State Prison in Morgan, Georgia when he and others conspired to impersonate federal agents to defraud health care workers across the country. Prosecutors will ask that eight months in federal prison be added to Nnanwubas state sentence when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour on March 12, 2024.
According to the plea agreement, Nnanwubas and others used contraband cell phones and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology to call victims and impersonate law enforcement personnel, including Deputy U.S. Marshals. The “Marshal” would tell the victim that a subpoena had been issued for the victim to appear and testify in court, and since the victim did not appear, a warrant had been issued for their arrest. The caller would say the warrant could be “quashed” if the victim sent money via Zelle or another digital payment system.
The conspirators targeted health care workers across the country. In March 2022, Nnanwubas’ Zelle account received approximately $15,000 in payments from eight different victims. An additional $5,300 was sent to Nnanwubas via Paypal and Venmo by three additional victims.
In a call to a Seattle area victim, Nnanwubas or his co-conspirators claimed to be “Deputy Marshal Gary Hartnett,” and demanded the victim return the call to what appeared to be a Seattle number. The scammers told the victim that two subpoenas had been sent to her place of work and that she needed to make payment, or she would be arrested. They also claimed there was a gag order in the case so that the victim could not consult a lawyer or other legal or law enforcement expert. The caller demanded the victim pay $2,000 or she would be arrested. The caller even told the victim she would have to turn herself in at the federal courthouse at 700 Stewart Street in Seattle. The schemers used as many correct details as possible to try to convince the victims to pay. The Seattle victim did not send money.
In the plea agreement Nnanwubas agrees to pay restitution to the victims of $15,300.
“This case should serve as a reminder that legitimate government workers will not call and demand payment via Zelle, Venmo or some other digital means,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “The Courts and our federal partners do not demand money or any kind of payment in response to a subpoena. If you get a call like this, just hang up.”
The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cindy Chang.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.