Two Nigerian nationals are indicted on charges of swindling businessman

May 15, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Two Nigerian nationals have been indicted on charges of swindling a Hong Kong businessman out of more than $53,000 in what federal prosecutors in Baltimore say was a fraudulent banking scheme.

Lemmy O. Akioyamen, 35, of Greenbelt and Cletus Ediale, 28, of Silver Spring, convinced the businessman that he could cash in on a $28.6 million windfall in their home country, prosecutors said.

In a form letter the men are believed to have sent to hundreds of businessmen around the United States, the men purported to control a secret fund in a national petroleum company in Nigeria, according to an indictment in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

One of the letters reached Johnson Wong at his Chicago business office of JBC Trading Co., which is based in Hong Kong.

Wong was told that he could share part of the $28.6 million "if he would provide certain information or take certain steps to have the monies released," the indictment said.

Prosecutors allege that Akioyamen -- posing as a Nigerian government official named Ngbada Wtego -- met with Wong in February in Maryland. Over the next two months, Wong provided Akioyamen with more than $53,000, money he was told was needed to gain access to the Nigerian funds, prosecutors said.

Wong finally became suspicious and contacted the FBI. Akioyamen and Ediale, unaware federal authorities had been called in, were trying to get another $380,000 from Wong, the indictment said. Wong's money has disappeared, prosecutors said.

But authorities said they have recovered 161 letters like the one sent to Wong that Akioyamen and Ediale apparently were preparing for another mass mailing.

At a hearing in federal court yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara S. Sale said authorities are investigating allegations that Akioyamen paid a woman in the United States to be his wife.

Pub Date: 5/15/98

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