back to article Nigerian man gets 12 years for $1.3m 419 scam

A Nigerian man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in US prison for orchestrating an advance payment scam that bilked victims out of more than $1.3m. Okpako Mike Diamreyan, 31, was ordered to serve 151 months in federal prison and pay a little more than $1m in restitution to the 67 victims he was was convicted of scamming …


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  1. DrXym Silver badge


    May this scumbag be the first of many

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's right about one thing.

    Anyone who would hand over thousands of dollars (or any ammount for that matter) to someone who emailed them out of the blue is definitely a fool.

    1. Cliff

      Bit harsh!

      If you do a little looking into this class of scams, you'll see that straight greed is no longer the only attack vector. People are lured in by...

      * Romance scams (falling in love is the motivation, but still ends up losing money)

      * Puppy/Pet scams (wanting to get a family pet for the kids)

      * Hitman scams (straightforward demanding money with menaces)

      * Room for Rent scams (prove you have funds by sending a deposit to yourself by Western Union, scammer picks up the transfer before you can collect your own money)

      * Work from Home scams (processing cheques, you bank them, deduct a processing fee, then send the rest on [before the fake cheques bounce] - or in a new variant, you have to pay for the timekeeping software/whatever before you can start - with an endless list)

      * Fake orphanage scams (real charities websites abused by scammers to solicit donations into fake accounts)

      Greed doesn't really come into any of those, not really, not like the 'son of a prince' rubbish you normally see. Before sweeping opinions, read up and educate yourself about the bigger picture, you'll have a lot more understanding and compassion for the victims.

      A good resource if you're interested is the forums at

      1. Gav

        Still fools, whatever the motivation

        Who mentioned anything about greed? These scams are only new variants on cons that are as old as the hills. If you are foolish enough to fall for them then you are a fool, whatever the motivation.

        And the "Work from Home scams" are not scams. They're money laundering. If you genuinely believe that cashing cheques for someone else into your personal bank account is a real legitimate job, then you are indeed a fool.

        Of course, being a fool isn't illegal, and the smartest of people can occasionally be fools. But that doesn't make them not fools...

  3. RW
    Thumb Down

    I have no sympathy with the marks

    Well, maybe with the ones this dude scammed the first year or two, but not later.

    Everyone who pays the slightest attention knows "if it's too good to be true, it isn't true!", so it's simply greed that led to the mugus getting fleeced.

    Moreover, these 419 scams usually do a nudge-nudge wink-wink act to the effect that the scammer needs help to circumvent various laws. The victims tacitly agreed to participate in an illegal transaction: one more reason for my lack of sympathy.

    1. Anonymous John

      A comment shouldn't need a title!

      " so it's simply greed that led to the mugus getting fleeced."

      With the "traditional" 419 scam, possibly. Yes they still catch the occasional victim, but most scam victims nowadays fall for scams that mimic familiar everyday activities.

      It's not greed that causes people to apply for fake jobs, try to rent imaginary apartments, adopt imaginary pets, give to fake charities, send money to scammers posting on dating sites claiming to be US soldiers in Afghanistan, etc.

      Naive, yes. Uninformed, yes. Calling them stupid is an oversimplification and unhelpful. Lawyers for example fall for scams and lose huge amounts of money. Not a profession occupied by the stupid.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    How come?

    Why are American scammers like cash 4 gold, Qray bracelets,diet plans, or any infomercial, and most regular commercial item allowed to continue?

    maybe the 419ers should learn to send $10 walmart gift card or something, because it seems, as long as the mark gets "something" even if it does not work or is not worth 1/100th of what you paid for it, it is fair game.

    Could it be that if all the fraudulent commercials were removed the entire TV industry would collapse. (pretty hard to run on 1% of your previous budget)

  5. CmdrX3

    Hard to feel sympathy

    I have little sympathy for the scammer, and probably even less for the victims. They lost their money because they were greedy and wanted something for nothing. The premise for these 419's are so ludicrous I just can't understand how people fall for it.

  6. Stubar

    What's Nigerian for "greedy, blinkered, head in the sand idiots"?

    Because making them wake up is the only way to stop this.

    We live, on the whole and certainly in the US, in a capitalist community. The basic ethos is "I have something, do you want it?" If the answer is "yes" then the trader (419'er) sells and then gets more of that stuff and sells it again, and again, and again. If the answer is "No" then the trader (419'er) finds something else or moves into a different market.

    Only when people stop handing over money will this stop.

  7. JohnG


    Have a look at - the folk there use the greed of the scammers to get them to waste their own time and money. One of my favourites is getting them to go on a trip to another African country, where they are lead to believe, they will receive money.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Not to mention and it's hilarious 'context' site

    2. Basic
      Thumb Up

      I love that site

      My personal favorite is conning them into performing the Monty Python parrot sketch to audition for a new film being shot in the scammers' area...

  8. Elmer Phud

    what's in a name?

    ""mugu," which means "fool" in Nigerian pidgin"

    Close enough to 'mug' for me.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Why so little restitution?

    If they show he fleeced these marks for $1.3 million, why ask for just over $1 million restitution. They admit they probably won't get it anyway, but shouldn't they at least ask for the full $1.3 million back? Otherwise, in a literal sense crime does pay (at the rate of about $25,000 a year).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The minimum prison sentence should be 20 years

    IMO the minimum prison sentence for these types of crimes should be 20 years.

    1. Steve X

      Why set a period?

      Just lock them up until they have:

      a) paid back what they stole


      b) done enough hard labour to have earned what they stole.

  11. Alan Firminger

    Incarcerate to protect the public

    Dangerous theory, I'm glad the court didn't buy it.

  12. JDX Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Nice to see...

    ... that IT folk aren't perpetuating the stereotype of being arrogant and emotionally retarded towards other people. I guess we shouldn't care about the people caught in floods or other natural disasters in known hot-spots either, since they were too stupid to move? And the soldiers killed/maimed in Afghanistan... well they are stupid for joining the army, so it's their own fault.

    It's a pretty poor indicator of society we only feel sorry for those who 'deserve it'.

  13. Roger Gann

    what's in a name #2

    Or "umug" which is even more apposite.h

  14. Fatman Silver badge

    Nigerian Scammer gets 12 years

    From the article:

    `" i want to forget america and come back home... once i take like 1m or half m," prosecutors quote him as saying.`

    After spending 12 years as someone's b---h in a Federal lockup (maximum security, I hope), I am quite sure that he will want to `forget America` once he gets out.

    When it is time to deport him, I suggest the cheap route.

    Push him out the back of a C-130.


    "That will cost you a million dollars!"

    "Payment in advance required."

    KARMA is such a b---h!

  15. A handle is required


    419 Eaters is hilarious. They do one thing called a "safari" where the idea is that you lure the scammers to different locations, preferably around the world, and claim that's where they can claim their money.

  16. Michael Shaw

    Another attack vendor is through ebay sales....

    Whilst i have little sympathy for people falling for the you have won the lottery and help me get this inheritance out of Nigeria, there are some far more sophisticated scams out there.

    As an example, Sarah, a friend of my wife tried selling an expensive watch on EBay. She knew that if she sold it to a shop she would get around £1000, and they would sell it on for around £1400. She put the auction on for two weeks, and after a couple of days, received an email from a buyer asking if they could buy it now, as their aniversay was in a few days time and waiting two weeks was too long.

    They offered her £1500 for it, in exchange for her canceling the auction and selling it to her, When she cancelled the auction, she received an email from paypal notifying that £1500 would be in her paypal account in 2 working days. She also was emailed by the buyer asking her to post it as soon as she had confirmation that the money was on its way as the aniversay was in a few days.

    I only found out about this going on, when my wife poped back to the house to get some masking tape to help Sarah parcel it up, and was in a hurry as the parcel had to go today, but its okay as she's sold it to an American on holiday in Nigeria.

    lets just say that looking at the paypal email, the headers showed that this email did not come from paypal. However how many people know about email headers, and even, how easy is it to look at the raw email headers in most mail programs and webmail sites like hotmail.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      email headers?

      Who needs to know about email headers? Sorry to be harsh, but your wife's friend is exactly the sort of greedy fool targetted by scammers.

      Greedy: she wanted more than a reputable shop would pay her.

      Fool: She was willing to post the item to a complete stranger in a foreign country on the basis of a note saying 'the cheque is in the mail".

      No-one needs to check email headers to know that's a con.

      1. Michael Shaw

        Follow up....

        Well mr AC,

        Your views on the victim are easy to have when you have already read the scam scenario on and you have not met a potential victim and heard their side of the story. Like me, you would have spotted this scenario for the scam that it was, and not need further evidence to dismis it as a scam.

        However, in the real world, with real people, with some (but non technical) internet experience that was not the case. Talking afterwards at the school gate, only one of the other parents had heard of this scam scenario before, and most would have believed the story, and shipped the item. These are not "greedy" people, but normal people happy to receive a reasonably good price and believe that they are helping someone in need. (perhaps i did not make it clear that the £1500 was £1400 + £100 for UPS courier and insurance)

        Email headers became important in this case, because i found myself in the position of urging Sarah to renage on a deal with someone who in her view has already paid the money for the item, needs it for an important wedding aniversary and by delaying she will be letting the buyer down - these are all important factors in the scam story. Me telling her that its a scam, gets translated into "theres some risk - but no proof that its a fraud", she has had emails from this person and believes them, and paypal, a trusted third party has confirmed the money is in international transit into her account.

        Now showing her the headers on this very well presented email from paypal and being able to show her the internet server that actually first sent the email - that forced her to either accept that its a fake email and a fraud, or that paypal actually send their email from email servers other than *

        It was only at this point that the fraud was stopped.

        Yes, Sarah was a bit too trusting, but Mr AC, there are scams that you will fall for simply because of your confidence that you would spot it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It must me in the water ..

    I ran into a gent in a cafe, he said he was a business associate of the President of Kenya and was looking for a business partner. All he needed to set up was my bank account details. Must be something in the water over their ..

  18. Willum08

    I cannot believe....

    ..that after all the publicity about scammers, some people are still so gullable.....

    For a good laugh about how one guy treated some of the 419ers, read the following small book : "Delete This at Your Peril: One Man's Fearless Exchanges with the Internet Spammers" by Bob Servant

  19. digital_age

    Stupidity tax

    If these mugus didn't pay these morons, they wouldn't have the funding to keep creating more SPAM for the rest of us.

  20. ninja squirrel

    What now?

    "Sorry to be harsh, but your wife's friend is exactly the sort of greedy fool targetted by scammers."

    Using ebay to avoid paying 30% commission to an arbitrary middle-man is hardly greedy.

    And to the un-initiated, a branded email - with ebay in the from address - isn't just "a note saying 'the cheque is in the mail'". It would be nice if all honest people understood not to trust email, but then peace in the middle east would also be nice.

    The only thing I'd hold against Michael Shaw's friend Sarah is stopping an auction to sell direct (making use of ebay, but not paying their commission). We could be generous and assume that she was trying to help out someone trying to buy a late anniversary gift, and didn't know how to change the auction end date, but still...

    However, I can't see it as auction-stopping bad karma, since my partner was subjected to a similar scam when selling a used laptop on ebay. The auction played out, but then the auction winner tried the same stunt, and followed it up with more fake emails warning of impending doom such as being thrown off ebay and having paypal accounts frozen if he didn't post the laptop immediately: laughable to techies, but enough to scare some people, I'm sure.

  21. ninja squirrel

    And a Fail to me for attention to detail!

    Since it would be paypal in the from address rather than ebay... but you get the idea...

    1. Steve X
      Thumb Down

      even so

      Why would paypal send an email saying "the money will be there in two days"? The only way they could be certain of that would be if they had the money, in which case it would be in the destination account in seconds, not days. And simple common sense (not so common, I know) says that she should still check with her own bank.

      At the end of the day this lady was prepared to send a valuable item to a complete stranger on the basis of an email saying that she would be paid soon. No matter how trustworthy the email sender may seem to be, it would have been naïve in the extreme to part with the item until she had received the money. Her enthusiasm to make more money by 'cutting out the middleman', including, as you note, ignoring the T&C of the auction house she used, is exactly what made her vulnerable to the scam.

      As has been said so many times: if it seems too good to be true, it is.

  22. Tom 38 Silver badge

    TBH, I don't really think of this as crime

    More wealth re-distribution. If you can convince someone to willingly hand over their goods and/or money, then fair play to you.

    @ninja squirrel

    Shop buys at: £1000

    Shop sells at: £1400

    Mark offers it at auction at: £1200

    Scammer offers £1500 to cancel auction auction and 'sell' to scammer.

    This is a typical 'if its too good to be true' scam - the scammer invites the mark to indulge in some dubious behaviour (cancelling the auction after ebay introduce the 'buyer' to the mark is defrauding ebay), and offers them a cash incentive to do so. The mark is too greedy and stupid to notice.

    Honest people don't get conned.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    The sad thing is...

    ...these scams are so endemic in Nigeria that they even make music videos about it. Search for "yahoozee" on youtube. You'll probably need the one with lyrics to make any sense of it though. The title of the track is a mash up of "yahoo" and "easy" and refers to using email to make easy money. Its a huge hit in Nigeria.

    Also search for another big hit called "Maga Don Pay". Maga is another word for mugu (prounounced Moo-Goo) and the title means "the fool has paid".

    Being part Nigerian it saddens me that we're known to the world for these scams... and hardly anything else...

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