LOS ANGELES – A Canadian man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison on a federal fraud charge for targeting American victims in several schemes, including a fake lottery scam, one involving “secret shopper” pitch letters, and another involving bogus credit repair services.
Peter Omagbemi, 45, of Montreal, was sentenced yesterday to 47 months in prison by United States District Judge George H. Wu. In addition to the federal prison term, Judge Wu ordered Omagbemi to pay just over $1 million in restitution.
“The border between the United States and Canada did not protect Mr. Omagbemi from prosecution,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “My office will pursue foreign nationals who seek to profit by defrauding people in the United States. In this case, Mr. Omagbemi’s fraud was particularly harmful as it caused the arrest of one of his victims.”
Omagbemi operated a MoneyGram outlet in Montreal and engaged in a mass marketing fraud scheme by targeting victims – primarily in the United States – and fraudulently claiming that the victims had won a lottery or sweepstakes. In some cases, Omagbemi claimed the victim had been offered a job as a mystery shopper, or that he could repair the victim’s credit.
In the lottery scheme, Omagbemi claimed that the victim had won a lottery or sweepstakes, but, in order to claim the funds, the victim needed to send money through MoneyGram to pay for taxes, fees and other purported expenses. In the mystery shopper scheme, Omagbemi falsely told the victim that they had been selected as a mystery shopper, which he followed up with by sending the victim a counterfeit check to deposit and directing them to send some of the money to MoneyGram. Finally, in the credit repair scheme, the defendant would claim that he could repair the victim’s credit in exchange for a fee. All of these claims were false.
Omagbemi’s schemes caused 294 victims to send him money. After the victims deposited the counterfeit checks and sent money to Omagbemi, the banks would reverse payment and would debit the amount against the victim’s own bank funds. Some victims fell behind on their bills, and, in one case, a victim was arrested for passing a fraudulent check.
The case against Omagbemi was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case originated from an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Monica Tait
Major Frauds Section