A Nigerian man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in U.S. prison for masterminding a 419 scam that siphoned more than $1.3 million from victims.
Okpako Mike Diamreyan was sentenced to serve 151 months in federal prison and pay a little more than $1 million in restitution to the 67 victims he scammed from 2004 and 2009. The conviction was the result of his relocation to the United States in 2008, when he married a U.S. citizen who according to court documents supported him by working two jobs and going to school at night.
“i want to forget america and come back home . . . once i take like 1m or half m i don forget this place,” Diamreyan told an accomplice, according to court records. Oftentimes, he referred to his victims as “mugu,” which means “fool” in Nigerian pidgin.
According to prosecutors, Diamreyan’s scheme involved sending email messages to potential victims about large sums of money or other assets. In one of his emails, he claimed to be in a refugee camp in Ghana, trying to move a consignment worth $23.4 million out of the country and offering 20 percent of the money in return.
In the sentencing document, prosecutors wrote how the defendant had abused an opportunity sought by millions — the opportunity to become a legal, productive member of U.S. society.
“The defendant hoped to become rich through fraud; what he deserves, instead, is a lengthy term of incarceration,” they added.