419 Fraud Explained by a Criminal Defense Lawyer in NY
In Nigeria, Criminal Code Section 419 states: “Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
In the United States, fraud perpetrated by Nigerians against Americans has become so common that there is a name for it derived from this Nigerian code section: it is called “419 fraud.” The Nigerian 419 scam takes many different forms, all of which are illegal in the United States and all of which could result in defendants being charged with federal crimes. The U.S. government, however, can only pursue legal action against defendants who authorities are able to arrest and force to stand trial within the jurisdiction of the United States.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal representation to defendants from Nigeria, as well as to any other defendants accused of participation in 419 scams. We can help to undermine the prosecutor’s case against those who allegedly violated U.S. law, and we work hard to get clients the best outcome possible when they are charged with violating U.S. federal laws. Whether this is a not guilty verdict or a favorable plea agreement, you can rest assured our NY criminal defense firm will do everything in its power to help you fight to avoid serious penalties. Contact us today to learn more.
What is a 419 Scam?
A 419 scam is a scam perpetrated from Nigeria in which a letter, fax, or email is sent to someone in the United States (or other countries, usually in Europe). The person who receives the letter is informed that he or she could receive a significant sum of money for “helping” someone to get funds out of Nigeria. There are different possible scenarios that explain why the letter recipient needs to help. For example, the recipient of the letter may be told:
- There is unclaimed money or gold that the letter sender needs help accessing.
- A stolen fortune has been amassed and the sender of the letter needs help getting it out of the country.
- A corporate or government official has embezzled funds and must get the money out of the country.
- Money has been won or inherited, but the letter sender needs help getting it out of the country.
In virtually every case, the person who receives the letter is promised they will be handsomely rewarded for helping the sender to move large sums of money- which does not actually exist. The recipient of the letter may be asked to pay fees in advance (usually referred to a taxes on the money or bribes to foreign officials) or may be asked to provide bank and financial information, which can then be used in identity theft. The recipient may even be forwarded a fraudulent check and asked to deposit it and then forward some of the funds, keeping the rest for himself. The money that is to be forwarded is wired before it becomes clear that the initial check was not a legitimate one. Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Top Rated Criminal Lawyer
Arkady Bukh has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in NYC
TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
What are the Penalties for a Nigerian 419 Scam?
Although the term “419” scam originates from the prohibition against fraud in the Nigerian criminal code, defendants who are charged in the U.S. will be prosecuted under United States criminal laws. Generally, federal laws apply to those accused of 419 fraud. Defendants could face prosecution under a number of different federal code sections including:
- S. Code Section 1341 prohibiting mail fraud, frauds and swindles
- S. Code Section 1343 prohibiting fraud involving wire communications
- S. Code Section 1344 prohibiting bank fraud or schemes designed to obtain assets from financial institutions
These crimes are very serious ones. A defendant convicted of any of these offenses could be sentenced to decades of imprisonment. Many defendants who are tried for operating a Nigerian 419 scam end up facing multiple charges, which means facing separate penalties associated with each crime.
In addition to jail and criminal fines, defendants who are accused of 419 fraud could also be named as defendants in civil actions and could be ordered to repay funds that were obtained through the scam. Financial implications of civil actions or of court-ordered restitution can be significant, with some defendants ordered to pay millions of dollars.
How Can a NY Criminal Lawyer Help Defendants Facing 419 Fraud Charges?
When you are from Nigeria or any other country and you are put on trial in the United States, you are provided with many of the same Constitutional protections as United States citizens. You cannot be imprisoned without due process, and you have rights within the criminal justice system including the right to be innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
From the moment you contact the NY criminal defense team at Bukh Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced investigators and legal professionals will explore ways to help you introduce doubt, suppress evidence, and raise defenses that could make a not guilty verdict possible.
We are not just skilled litigators ready to fight for you in court, but are also experienced negotiators who have helped many clients to negotiate favorable plea agreements resulting in minor consequences for serious criminal acts. Our goal is always to get you the best outcome with the fewest consequences possible, and we are ready to get started today. Give us a call to learn more.