Sweepstakes Scam Suspect Arrested in Honolulu by FBI
|FBI Honolulu April 12, 2012|
Robert Allan Jones, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Honolulu Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced today the arrest of Williams Eronini Njoku, on mail fraud and wire fraud charges relating to an alleged fake lottery/sweepstakes scheme. Njoku is a naturalized Canadian citizen from Nigeria.
Njoku was arrested without incident at approximately 9:20 p.m. on April 11, 2012 aboard WestJet Airlines flight 1862 after the plane, originating from Canada, landed in Honolulu. The FBI had previously received information that Njoku was on the flight from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who also assisted in making the apprehension.
According to the Los Angeles federal grand jury indictment from December 14, 2011, Njoku and others targeted fraud victims in the United States while Njoku resided in Canada. Njoku and his co-schemers allegedly lied to victims on the phone by saying they had won a lottery or sweepstakes and that the winnings could only be released if the victims wired money to Canada to pay fees, taxes, or other expenses.
The indictment details five mailings and wirings in furtherance of this alleged fraud during 2008. All of the victims detailed in the indictment resided in California. The purpose of Njoku’s trip to Hawaii appears to have been tourism.
Njoku will have an initial appearance today in Honolulu U.S. District Court. He will also later be required to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to face the charges detailed in the indictment.
This is a continuing investigation being conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Los Angeles, with significant cooperation from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The defendant will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.
The statutory maximum prison sentence for mail fraud and wire fraud is 20 years per count. The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.