NEW YORK (CN) - A Nigerian man was properly convicted of wire fraud and ordered to pay $680,000 in restitution after he duped U.S. citizens into parting with their money by claiming he needed "advance fees" to access nonexistent fortunes in Nigerian banks, the 2nd Circuit ruled.
Daniel Ojeikere, or "David Jordan," tricked people into paying the fees by promising them cuts of the fortunes that were supposedly frozen in Nigerian banks. Ojeikere was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervision. A judge also ordered him to pay nearly $680,000 in restitution.
The appellate panel upheld the district court's decision to draw out Ojeikere's sentence to more than three years due to his advisory role in the scheme. Ojeikere had a woman pose as his secretary, "Barbara Smith," prompting the government to seek a sentence enhancement for his supervisory role.
Ojeikere argued that the government failed to prove that he managed the woman, but phone calls to the office of "David Jordan" were answered by "Barbara Smith," proving she was instrumental in the scheme and making Ojeikere more than a mere participant, the ruling states.
Ojeikere also tried to blame the victims of the scheme, calling them co-conspirators who should not be rewarded with restitution. He said the "victims' hands are too dirty to claim restitution" because they were active participants in the scheme seeking to get money illegally from Nigeria.
But the three-judge panel ruled that the victims were not involved in Ojeikere's criminal offense, which was a scheme to obtain money from them. "Whatever illegal scheme the victims thought they were involved in," Judge Calabresi wrote, "it was not a scheme to lose their own money, which they earned fairly (so far as we know), lost, and now want returned." Restitution cannot be denied on the basis of "greedy or dishonest motives."
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