Canadian Man Convicted of 16 Counts of Fraud in Connection with Lottery Scheme Targeting Elderly
|FBI Los Angeles April 30, 2010|
Henry Anekwu, 43, a resident of Vancouver, Canada was convicted of 16 counts of fraud at his federal trial in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon, for operating a fraudulent lottery scheme targeting mainly elderly Americans, announced Steven M. Martinez, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, and André Birotte Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.
Anekwu was the owner of Platinum Award, Inc. and Capital Award, Inc., fraudulent lottery companies he operated in Vancouver, from approximately 1998 through 2003. Anekwu operated the scheme by employing telemarketers who would contact potential victims in the United States in order to inform them they had won a lottery. Victims were advised that, in order to collect the lottery winnings, they were first required to pay taxes or fees that were described as transaction, conversion, registration or processing fees. Victims were instructed to deposit cashiers checks or personal checks to commerical mailboxes located in Vancouver, Canada. Victims wrote checks to the fraudulent lottery companies in amounts ranging from approximately $475 to $60,000. Many victims were contacted repeatedly and instructed to send additional monies in order to obtain their winnings. In some cases, victims were talked into selling assets, charging money on credit cards, borrowing from friends and family, and even mortgaging their homes to send money to the fraudulent companies. Investigators and prosecutors estimated the total loss to victims exceeded $600,000.
Anekwu was arrested in Canada in 2005 by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police without incident. Anekwu was released on bail after his arrest and, in December 2009, was extradited to Los Angeles, approximately four years later.
Anekwu is scheduled to be sentenced on July 12, 2010 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Anekwu faces a maximum statutory penalty of 160 years in prison at sentencing.
This case was investigated by the RCMP Project Emptor Task Force in Surrey, British Columbia. Members of the task force include the following agencies based in either the United States or Canada: FBI; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Federal Trade Commission; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - “E” Division Commercial Crime Section; the Canadian Competition Bureau; and the Consumer Protection BC (formerly the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Authority).
This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.