West African Letter Fraud Explained by a NY Defense Attorney
West African letter fraud is a type of advance fee scam. Those involved in perpetrating the scam are breaking U.S. laws and can be charged within the United States for criminal offenses. However, for alleged fraudsters throughout Nigeria and other locations in West Africa, it is difficult or impossible for the United States government to investigate perpetrators, to arrest them, and to force them to stand trial. Most people accused of West African letter fraud are arrested when they travel to the United States, and are forced to stand trial only after first coming into the country voluntarily.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal representation to clients who are facing criminal prosecution as a result of West African letter fraud. We represent clients from Nigeria and worldwide who are facing legal actions brought by U.S. authorities. We understand how to provide important legal protections to non-citizens being accused of fraud in U.S. courts and we fight hard to help keep all of our clients out of jail. To learn more, contact us if you are charged with fraud crimes.
What is West African Letter Fraud?
West African letter fraud refers to fraud schemes that originate in West Africa. Nigeria is one of the most common places for scams to originate, with so many scams being perpetrated from Nigeria that the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a statement in 1991 disavowing its participation.
Schemes originating from Nigeria date back to at least the 1920s, when businessmen were told they would be paid handsomely if they provided funds to rescue members of a wealthy family wrongfully imprisoned in Spain. The scams originally involved sending letters through postal mail, and eventually sending faxes became a common way to make connections. Today, letters are still sent through the postal service sometimes, but email has become one of the primary forms of communication used to perpetrate the fraud scams.
The letters or emails sent to those who are being scammed generally provide some reason why money or fees must be paid upfront in order to obtain much more money later. For example, those being scammed may be told they need to help transfer money out of Nigeria, or out of another country with political or social unrest. Those who agree to “help” are promised substantial sums of money- but first they have to pay various costs like taxes or legal fees.
Requests for payment of fees continue to be made once someone has initially paid, with new “obstacles” invented for why the money is not released and new reasons why more advance fee payments must be made The promised money, however, never comes. 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
TOP RATED ON: SUPER LAWYERS, AVVO, NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS
Penalties for West African Letter Fraud
Penalties for West African letter fraud can be imposed by U.S. authorities only if an individual can be arrested and made to stand trial in the United States. If you are arrested, you could be charged with a variety of federal criminal offenses depending upon how the scheme was orchestrated. Some of many possible charges could include mail fraud, wire fraud, and Internet fraud crimes.
Each defendant who is involved with any part of the West African letter fraud scam could be charged with all crimes committed by any co-conspirators. It is common for defendants to face multiple different criminal counts arising from the same allegedly wrongful actions. Each federal offense, like mail and wire fraud, could result in decades of prison time if convicted of the offense. It is also common for defendants to be forced to make restitution, or pay back money acquired through fraud schemes.
How a NY Criminal Lawyer Can Help Defendants Accused of West African Letter Fraud
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal assistance and advice to clients who have been charged with any type of fraud scheme. We understand state and federal laws that aim to punish defendants accused of involvement with scams and we know how prosecutors try to convince juries to convict. We’ll help you try to avoid being found guilty or to explore ways to reduce possible penalties. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how our NY criminal defense firm can help you.