1st December, 2010
Two Nigerians have been jailed in the United States for fraud-related offences. OneÂ was sentenced to 14 years in the US federal prison for his role in an internationalÂ lottery scam that bilked Americaâ€™s retirees out of more than $2.7 million. The otherÂ Nigerian woman was jailed for medicare fraud.
A U.S. District Court judge on Monday sentenced Emmanuel Onwuzulike, who also usedÂ the name â€œTony Moore,â€ to the 168-month prison term and also ordered him to pay fullÂ restitution to his victims.
Prosecutors argued that Onwuzulike was part of an organization that targeted atÂ least 52 victims around the world from 2004 through 2006, including several OrangeÂ County residents.Bogus businesses reportedly contacted potential victims to tellÂ them they had won a lottery prize but that in order to collect their â€œwinnings,â€Â they had to call telemarketers in Spain or England. The telemarketers informed theÂ victims that they would need to pay taxes or other fees to receive the prizes, whichÂ never materialized, prosecutors said.
In June 2006, an Orange County resident received a letter indicating that she hadÂ won $815,950 from the Euromillones Spanish Sweepstake Lottery but that she had toÂ pay a two percent tax in order to receive the winnings. The woman wired $16,319 to aÂ bank account controlled by Onwuzulike, prosecutors said, but was never sent anyÂ money.
Another Orange County resident received a similar letter, wiring $39,241 after beingÂ told she had won $3.8 million in the Australian lottery. A third Southern CaliforniaÂ victim, a woman from the San Fernando Valley, lost her home after sending OnwuzulikeÂ $368,000, prosecutors said. The Metropolitan Police Service, which joined the FBI inÂ investigating the scam, carried out a search warrant in August 2006 that turned upÂ evidence regarding the lottery business in Onwuzulikeâ€™s vehicle and his London home.Â In July, he pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of mail fraud.
Another Nigerian, a woman woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison and three yearsÂ of supervised release for her role in a Medicare fraud scheme, announced theÂ Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS).
On March 1, 2010, Linda Eteimo Ere Kendabie, 29, of Nigeria, pleaded guilty toÂ conspiring to commit health care fraud. Kendabie was sentenced yesterday by U.S.Â District Court Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas.
Kendabie was also ordered to pay $461,244 in restitution to Medicare. According toÂ court documents, Kendabie worked as an administrative assistant for B.I. MedicalÂ Supply LLC, a Houston-area durable medical equipment (DME) company.
Kendabie admitted that B.I. Medical billed Medicare for expensive, rigid orthoticsÂ and braces that were packaged together and referred to as an arthritis kit, at aÂ cost of approximately $4,000 per kit, when, in fact, they supplied MedicareÂ beneficiaries with different, less expensive products. Kendabie also admitted thatÂ the equipment supplied was not medically necessary. In total, B.I.Â MedicalÂ submitted approximately $846,000 in fraudulent claims to Medicare. On Sept. 7, 2010,Â Modupe Babanumi, a patient recruiter for B.I. Medical Supply, was sentenced to 12Â months and a day in prison. Babanumi pleaded guilty to one-count charge ofÂ conspiracy to commit health care fraud on March 1, 2010.
Todayâ€™s sentencing was announced by Assistant Attorney-General of the CriminalÂ Division Lanny A. Breuer; U.S. Attorney JosÃ© Angel Moreno of the Southern DistrictÂ of Texas; Special Agent-in-Charge Richard C. Powers of the FBIâ€™s Houston FieldÂ Office; Special Agent-in-Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHSÂ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations; and Texas AttorneyÂ General, Greg Abbott.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Katherine Houston, Charles D. Reed,Â Sam S. Sheldon and Jennifer Saulino, of the Criminal Divisionâ€™s Fraud Section. TheÂ case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S.Â Attorneyâ€™s Office for the Southern District of Texas and the Criminal Divisionâ€™sÂ Fraud Section.
Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in sevenÂ districts have obtained indictments of more than 825 individuals who collectivelyÂ have falsely billed the Medicare programme for more than $2 billion.
In addition, HHSâ€™s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working inÂ conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability andÂ decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.