Huntington woman sentenced to prison for role in Nigerian fraud scheme | USAO-SDWV
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington woman was sentenced today to three months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for her role as a financial mule in a Nigerian fraud scheme that scammed the money of individuals, many of whom were elderly. Patricia Dudding, 70, was also ordered to pay $1,788,589.24 in restitution
According to court documents and statements made in court, Dudding admitted to receiving and transferring fraudulent funds through numerous accounts she opened in her name at several different banks from May 2018 to July 2019. Dudding admitted that she had done so under the guidance of a person she met online who went by the name “Lucas Bennito Antonio” or “Lucas.” Dudding received numerous deposits in these bank accounts from “Lucas” and others located in the United States and abroad. Dudding and anonymous co-conspirators then transferred these funds to bank accounts located in Nigeria.
Dudding further admitted that she became aware that “Lucas’s” activities were not legitimate. A series of employees from the various banks questioned Dudding about his transactions and, in several cases, closed his accounts for alleged fraud. To further the scheme, Dudding made false and fraudulent statements to these financial institutions to make it appear that the wire transfers were being sent for legitimate purposes. On April 26, 2019, Dudding wired $39,000 from his account to someone in Montana. When questioned by a bank employee, Dudding lied about the wire transfer to help Lucas transfer funds to the designated recipient in Montana.
Dudding further admitted that she withdrew funds from the victims for her personal benefit. According to Dudding, she used the funds to pay for her utility and satellite TV service. She also used the funds to purchase groceries, drugstore items, gasoline, department store items, and restaurant meals. Dudding also made numerous cash withdrawals.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the United States Secret Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), and the United States Police Department. South Charleston.
United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers handed down the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson prosecuted the case.
More information about the department’s efforts to help older Americans is available on its Elder Justice Initiative webpage. Elder fraud complaints can be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or 877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources related to elder victimization through its Office for Victims of Crime, accessible at https://www.ovc.gov.
A copy of this press release can be found on the website of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Court documents and related information can be found on PACER by searching for case #3: 22-cr-1.