Nigerian man sentenced for defrauding elderly US victims

Stock image of an unidentified person holding a smart phone and credit card. via Getty Images

A 39-year-old man from Nigeria will be spending more than six years in prison for his role in what authorities are calling a "transnational inheritance fraud scheme."

Emmanuel Samuel was part of a group of fraudsters who sent personalized letters to older adults in the United States, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The letters claimed to be from a bank in Spain, letting the recipient know they were entitled to receive multimillion-dollar inheritances from a family member who’d died years before in Portugal.

Samuel and his co-defendants told victims they were required to send money for delivery fees, taxes and payments to avoid questioning from government authorities before they could receive their purported inheritances.

Victims sent money to the defendants through a complex web of former victims, authorities said. The defendants convinced these former victims to receive money from new victims and then forward the fraud proceeds to others.

Authorities did not say how many people had been victims to the inheritance scheme, or how much money had been lost.

Samuel was sentenced on June 21 in Miami to 82 months in prison. He had been previously extradited to the U.S. from the United Kingdom.

Two fellow people convicted in the scheme will also be sentenced in the coming months. 

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, you can contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).

This story was reported from Detroit.