Defendant allegedly conspired with others who pretended to be a real estate attorney and had money wired to fake escrow account
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly and Garden City Police Commissioner Kenneth O. Jackson announced that a Maryland man was arrested for allegedly stealing $45,000 from a Garden City resident as part of an email scam.
Emeka Ndukwu, 50, from Lanham, Md., and a dual national of the United States and Nigeria, was arraigned on a felony complaint Saturday on a charge of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony) before Judge Andrea Phoenix. The defendant was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court today. If convicted of the charge, the defendant faces a potential maximum of two and one-third years to seven years in prison.
“Across the United States we’re seeing an epidemic of email scams targeting people who transfer large sums of money as part of their jobs or who are about to transfer money as part of an important life event, like buying a home,” DA Donnelly said. “In this case, the defendant and his co-conspirators allegedly targeted a young homebuyer in an email scam where they pretended be a real estate attorney and stole $45,000.00 in the process.”
Commissioner Jackson said, “Email account take over scams, in which residents lose money, are difficult to solve as the subjects often reside out of state or out of country. This case is a good example of detectives conducting a thorough investigation, developing leads, and identifying a subject within the United States. Detectives were then able to make an arrest in conjunction with the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.”
DA Donnelly and Commissioner Jackson said that between October 8, 2021, and October 12, 2021, a resident of Garden City sent two electronic wires for $45,000 total to a person he believed to be his real estate attorney. The defendant, allegedly acting in concert with two other individuals, allegedly recruited an individual to receive the stolen money into that person’s bank account, and then obtained the proceeds of the fraud.
The defendant surrendered to detectives at the Garden City Police Department on Friday, September 30.
If you’re about to wire a large sum of money:
- Review email addresses carefully for deviations in the sender’s name or domain name and ensure that transaction details, including account numbers or payment options, haven’t changed.
- Follow up any email communications or text messages with a phone call before any money is exchanged.
- Be sure to use previous contact information for the person, not information received during the course of your email chain, which could be hacked.
- Look out for any changes in normal business procedures, including an individual using a personal email address or making suspicious requests.
- Be aware of any changes in language or speech pattern, including unusual grammar mistakes, formality, or informality, in the communications requesting money.
- Scammers will emphasize urgency in their request for money. Pay attention to common phrases like “time is of the essence” or “I need you to take care of this ASAP” or language threatening that a deal may fall through if immediate action to transfer money isn’t taken.
- If you believe you may have sent money to someone who has defrauded you, contact your financial institution immediately, which may be able to stop or reverse the transaction and recover some or all of your money.
The investigation is ongoing.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Sara Schwartz of the Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. The defendant was represented at arraignment by the Legal Aid Society.