Man Who Siphoned $420K from L.A. Resident's Account Sentenced to Prison

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A man was sentenced today to 46 months in federal prison for participating in business email compromise scams, including one in which $420,000 was stolen from a Los Angeles victim's life insurance account, then deposited and laundered in various bank accounts set up in the names of others.

Sunday Anyika, who pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter to pay $1.12 million in restitution.

At the sentencing hearing in Los Angeles federal court, Walter called the scheme "malicious and extensive" and said it caused "huge losses to unsuspecting victims," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In January 2018, Anyika's co-conspirators, using the victim's life insurance policy number, Social Security number, and date of birth to verify the account, called a business -- not identified in court documents -- to obtain details on a life insurance policy under the name of the unnamed victim.

Later that month, Anyika, using a fake Liberian passport sent by his co-conspirators that bore his photograph, opened and maintained sole control over a TD Bank account that used the victim's name.

In February 2018, one of Anyika's co-conspirators fraudulently and without authorization caused the business to wire $420,000 from the victim's life insurance policy account to the same TD Bank account under Anyika's control. Within weeks, he transferred the ill-gotten funds to other accounts that he controlled -- including one in Hong Kong -- that were opened using the names of other people.

One of Anyika's co-conspirators, in March 2018, fraudulently and without authorization, requested cancellation of the victim's life insurance policy and directed that the remaining funds in the account be wired to the TD Bank account that Anyika had opened two months earlier, but mistakenly ordered the check to be sent to the victim.

As a result of the fraudulent cancellation request, the business canceled the victim's life insurance policy and mailed a check for $761,355 in an envelope addressed to the victim's office in Bell.

Anyika, 56, of Brooklyn, New York, admitted in his plea agreement that his co-conspirators committed other similar scams, including deceiving a law firm into wiring $400,802 in client settlement money to a bank account under Anyika's control. The wire was unable to be recalled and the law firm ended up losing the settlement money.

Anyika further admitted to participating in such scams as bilking a toy company out of $135,125 when one of his associates sent the company a series of emails with specific instructions that tricked it into wiring invoice payments to a bank account Anyika controlled. The account had been opened by Anyika using the same fake Liberian passport he used previously.

The co-conspirators further defrauded a construction company and a chemical distributor via fake emails masquerading as a subcontractor and supplier, respectively, that requested payments, according to court documents.

The construction company was tricked into wiring $158,113, and the chemical distributor was deceived into sending two payments totaling $117,608 to bank accounts opened and controlled by Anyika.

Anyika admitted to knowing that the funds deposited into accounts he controlled were obtained and sent to him as part of the fraudulent conspiracy.

As his share of the proceeds of the scheme, Anyika personally retained at least $150,000. The co-conspirators remain at large, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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