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Upper Marlboro man pleads guilty in ‘Nigerian scam’

By: Emily Babay
Examiner Staff Writer
September 8, 2010

An Upper Marlboro man originally from Nigeria admitted that he posed as a federal agent to run a “Nigerian scam” that defrauded victims out of about $300,000.

David Johnson, who also goes by Ukoha Eke, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and impersonate a federal official in a Florida federal court. He was apprehended in a sting operation in Maryland in May.

Johnson, 39, and Saleumsak Khammungkhune, 57, of San Diego, were accused of posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in order to run an “advance fee” scheme.

The men ran the scheme by telling their victims that $10 million had arrived for them from Nigeria, but they had to pay Customs and Border Protection fees to get the money, according to the criminal complaint, filed in May in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

To deceive their victims, the men used e-mail addresses that appeared to be government accounts and used the name “Robert Boner” — similar to Robert Bonner, the former U.S. Customs commissioner, according to court documents.

Johnson was caught May 13 when he went to a Greenbelt hotel to meet with someone he believed to be one of the scheme’s victims, but was actually a federal agent who assumed the victim’s identity.

According to court records, the victim was a Gulf War veteran from Arizona who received an e-mail saying $10 million was awaiting his pickup.

The victim paid between $170,000 and $200,000 in what he thought were fees to obtain the funds.

Authorities set up a sting operation when Johnson arranged a meeting in Greenbelt with the victim to collect an additional $16,000 in purported fees in March, court documents say.

At that meeting, Johnson identified himself as a customs official and met with an agent posing as the victim. The agent didn’t hand over the funds, and Johnson made arrangements for a later meeting, which Johnson said Boner would also attend.

Johnson was arrested at the second meeting in May.

His attorney did not return a call for comment.

Khammungkhune was apprehended May 15, when he met a person he thought was another victim at the Palm Beach International Airport.

Both men were indicted by a federal grand jury May 25.

Johnson pleaded guilty this week, following Khammungkhune’s guilty plea in August.

Johnson will be sentenced on Nov. 16 and Khammungkhune’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 26.

Johnson could face up to five years in prison.

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September 11, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Who knows some about the Tunisian man?

    Comment by ana | September 11, 2010 | Reply


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