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An individual gets 12 years in jail for stealing $1.3 million

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September 6, 2010

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A thirty-one year old individual in Nigeria has been sentenced to more than twelve years in a U.S. prison for initiating and managing an advance payment crime system that robbed victims out of more than US $1.3 million.

Mike Diamreyan was ordered to serve 151 months in a U.S. federal jail and pay $1.3 million in restitution funds to the 67 victims he was convicted of scamming from 2004 to 2009.

The conviction was the result of his relocation to the U.S. in 2008, when he married an American citizen. Rather than capitalizing on the opportunity to start a new life, he used it to ramp up his email-based scheme, which is often referred to as a 419 scam, after the Nigerian penal code that makes them illegal in that country.

“I want to forget America and come back home once I take 1 million or half a million and forget this place,” Diamreyan told an accomplice, according to court records.

He routinely referred to his marks as "mugu," which means "fool" in Nigerian local language.

According to U.S. prosecutors, Diamreyan and his accomplice worked hard to dupe their victims, calling one victim more than 1,200 times over a two-year period. He claimed to have various consignments stored in Ghana worth millions and promised his marks a 20-percent commission in exchange for financial help in transferring funds to the U.S. And to back up his claims, he even provided fraudulent documents.

Ironically, the Nigerian citizen, who sometimes resided in Ghana, only stepped up the scam once he moved to the U.S. since many of the victims were more comfortable dealing with a person who was already on American soil, prosecutors said.

Many of the "marks" were robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Diamreyan's jail sentence was at the low end of the 151 months to 188 months prosecutors had sought. The U.S. Federal Court had argued that a stiff sentence was necessary because Diamreyan was otherwise likely to return to Nigeria, where he would be free to continue the scam with impunity. By locking him up for a little over 12 years, the Court is hoping he won't continue as a criminal once he gets out of jail in early 2023.

U.S. prosecutors said the $1.3 million loss to victims was a conservative estimate, because it included only those who had direct dealings with Diamreyan. The feds conceded the likelihood of him paying the restitution was slim, however, since most of the money appears to have disappeared for the most part.

How the scams were able to go on undetected for more than five years isn't known at this time.

“The only way to protect the public from such crimes in the future is to incarcerate Diamreyan for a lengthy period of time,” the Court wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Some observers in justice circles say he should have got twenty-five years or more, since Nigeria is well known for those sorts of Internet crimes, and that the trend has been on the rise for the past four to five years and it appears that there is no end in sight.

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Source: The U.S. Department of Justice.

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