Nigerian man pleads guilty to Huntington romance fraud scheme

Local News

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – A Nigerian citizen living in the U.S. has pleaded guilty to receiving stolen money in a fraud scheme in West Virginia.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Augustine Amechi, 24, a Nigerian citizen living in Huntington was indicted in April in connection to a romance fraud scheme. Court documents say Amechi was allegedly involved in the scheme from at least 2018 to March 11, 2021 along with other suspects. According to the DOJ, he was also a Marshall University student at the time of the alleged scheme.

Officials say Amechi admitted that victims of the alleged fraud scheme were convinced to send money to bank accounts he controlled in Cabell County. He reportedly received the money through a variety of means including bank wire transfers, Western Union, Moneygram, money orders and cashier’s checks. The DOJ says approximately $108,601.92 was directly deposited into his bank accounts, more than $150,000 in cash was mailed to his residents, and he received more than $140,000 in Zelle deposits.

According to court documents, Amechi allegedly admitted to stealing from at least 37 different victims. He also allegedly admitted that he would keep some of the money for himself and forward some money to others. More than $15,000 was transferred to bank accounts in Nigeria.

United States Attorney William S. Thompson says Amechi faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced March 7, 2022. Officials say as part of the plea agreement, Amechi agreed to pay at least $192,762.19 in restitution.

Amechi further admitted that he obtained stolen money from at least 37 different fraud victims, and after he received the money, he would keep some of it for himself and forward some of the stolen money to others. Amechi transferred more than $15,000 to bank accounts in Nigeria.

Amechi faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 7, 2021.  As part of  his plea agreement, Amechi agreed to pay at least $192,762.19 in restitution.

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