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Man sentenced for fraud conspiracy

A Suffolk man was sentenced Monday to more than nine years in prison for his role in an international fraud conspiracy that stole more than $3.9 million from hundreds of victims.

“William Onyebuchi Ogbonna was an organizer and leader of a large, international conspiracy to defraud hundreds of victims, many of whom were elderly, of millions of dollars,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Elder justice has been a priority for this office for the past two years, and this case is proof positive of that commitment. We are combatting these scams through education and awareness, deterrence, and prosecution.”

According to court documents, Ogbonna, 44, originally from Nigeria and now a naturalized citizen, spent at least three years conspiring with local, national and international conspirators to steal more than $3.9 million from unwitting victims. The victims were subjects of lottery, inheritance, romance and real estate scams, among other types of fraud, who were tricked into sending money to dozens of bank accounts Ogbonna opened in his name, in the fake name “Donald Miller,” and in the name of various business entities he created to further the scheme. Ogbonna would take a percentage, and then send the remaining money to Nigeria, China and other countries. The majority of victims were elderly and many became destitute as a result of Ogbonna and his conspirators’ actions.

Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. It is a term used to describe five subtypes of elder abuse: physical abuse; financial fraud, scams and exploitation; caregiver neglect and abandonment; psychological abuse; and sexual abuse.

“Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year,” the press release stated. “Together with federal, state, local and tribal partners, the Department of Justice is steadfastly committed to combatting all forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation through enforcement actions, training and resources, research, victim services and public awareness. This holistic and robust response demonstrates the Department’s unwavering dedication to fighting for justice for older Americans.”