Suffolk man sentenced for $3.9 million international fraud conspiracy targeting the elderly

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 21:47:29-04

NORFOLK, Va. – A Suffolk man was sentenced Monday to more than nine years in prison for his role in an international fraud conspiracy that stole more than $3.9 million from hundreds of victims.

Court documents say 44-year-old William Onyebuchi Ogbonna, who is originally from Nigeria and is now a naturalized United States citizen, spent at least three years conspiring with local, national and international conspirators to steal more than $3.9 million from unwitting victims.

The victims were subjects of lottery, inheritance, romance and real estate scams, among other types of fraud, and were tricked into sending money to dozens of bank accounts Ogbonna opened in his name, under the fake name “Donald Miller,” and in the name of different business entities he created to further the scheme.

Records say Ogbonna would take a percentage and then send the remaining money to Nigeria, China and other countries. The majority of victims were elderly and many became destitute as a result of Ogbonna and his conspirators’ actions.

“William Onyebuchi Ogbonna was an organizer and leader of a large, international conspiracy to defraud hundreds of victims, many of who were elderly, of millions of dollars,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Elder justice has been a priority for this office for the past two years and this case is proof positive of that commitment. We are combatting these scams through education and awareness, deterrence, and prosecution.”

Related: Virginia Beach businessman to serve 11 years for fraud targeting elderly homeowners

Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. It is a term used to describe five subtypes of elder abuse: Physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse and sexual abuse.

Authorities say elder abuse affects at least 10% of older Americans every year.

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