Scheme which bilked Millions from people worldwide was operating in Huntington

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A fraudulent scheme which took Millions of victims for hundreds of thousands of dollars was being operated out of Huntington. U.S. Attorney Will Thompson said so far, his office has been able to charge ten people tied to the fraudulent scheme. He said those in the group were very  crafty in how they stalked victims.

“They would scan obituaries and look for somebody who recently lost a loved one and then start up an online relationship. It might be as simple as a Facebook request or on a dating website. They would then start to build trust with that person,” Thompson said on MetroNews Talkline.

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The on-line conversations would build a trust between the victim and the scammer, until there was suddenly a financial emergency and the victim’s faith was put to the test.

“It would start out small with a couple hundred dollars here or a thousand dollars there. These people would unwittingly transfer them the money,” he said.

Thompson said a lot off the victims didn’t realize they were victims and many still don’t. They remain convinced they are in an actual relationship. According to Thompson, many of the victims were identified by family members once a relative got in too deep.

Thompson said some victims actually transferred their life savings to these individuals, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victims continue to come forward according to Thompson.

“Right now we’ve got a total of about 2.5 Million in the total conspiracy scheme,” he said.

So far, 10 people have been charged. The most recent, John Nassy, 29, a Nigerian national admitted to participating in the scheme from June 2018 until at least May 2019 while he attended college in Huntington. Nassy admitted that he let victims transfer at least $148,000 to his bank accounts that he knew was from unlawful activity. Nassy further admitted that after the victims’ funds were deposited in his accounts, he kept some of the money for himself and forwarded some of the money to his co-conspirators via the Zelle digital payments network. Nassy also transferred money to bank accounts located in Nigeria.

“It was all based out of Huntington. There were several Marshall students involved. Not necessarily all of the defendants were there, but that’s where it was based,” said Thompson.

Six co-defendants have pleaded guilty. Charges remain pending against the other co-defendants.

Nassy is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Nassy also agrees that he owes $148,000 in restitution.

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