Eagle, Virginia – Nene Kochuga, 61 a Virginia beach resident was ordered by a District court Judge to repay the money she stole, as well as serve four years in prison during a Monday, January 22nd, sentencing hearing by District Court Judge Russell Granger.
Kochuga admitted to investigators she defrauded the woman of her money as part of a “Jamaican lottery” scam and pleaded guilty to felony theft of tens of thousands from the 83-year-old local woman. According to court documents, the bilking started in October 2016, when Kochuga made contact with the woman as the US contact for Daniel David Cunningham.
The scammers reportedly told the woman she had won $9 million in the Jamaican lottery and would be required to pay the relevant taxes and processing fees before the money could be released to her. Over the next several months, the woman sent Kochuga and her co-conspirators US $20,000.
Taking advantage of an elderly person with limited income is intolerable. Hopefully if there are others who would consider preying on those who are vulnerable they will think twice before victimizing anyone. Possible targets of fraud also need to remember the old adage that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. – Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District Attorney
However, the scheme began to unravel around October 26, 2016, when U.S. Postal Inspector Jason Thomasson intercepted an Express Mail package containing $700 in cash sent from Kochuga to the victim. The husband was also contacted and informed about a $285,000 Mercedes Benz that was in transit from Colorado Springs. He only needed to pay the delivery fee.
Both men contacted the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, which contacted the Virginia Beach police department. Detective Holloman who had previously investigated Kochuga and Thomasson, the U.S. postal inspector, sent copies of their evidence to Detective Karen Waddell with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, who arrested Kochuga on April 19, 2017.
The woman also gave the police the names and addresses of the people to whom she had been sending money, two of whom were Kochuga’s aliases, Kerny Kochuga and Chong Monahan.
From their investigation, the authorities also learned that Kochuga was the American contact for a group of Jamaicans running the lottery scamming scheme. For her services, Kochuga kept 25 percent of all the money she collected and sent the rest to the co-conspirators.
In handing down his sentence, the judge ordered that Kochuga repay the Eagle County woman the sum she defrauded, and pay the $1,992 it cost the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office to remove her from her Virginia Beach home to Eagle County.