Anti-Terrorism Certificates: Get 'em cheap

March 1, 2011

ANTI-TERRORISM CERTIFICATES: As a United States citizen, if you are lucky enough to be the winner of an overseas lottery or the beneficiary of funds from a deceased foreigner, then you are likely aware that there are restrictions on the transfer of funds into the United States from foreign financial institutions. Pursuant to international monetary treaties, the trans-border transmission of significant funds may not be undertaken without first securing an "Anti-Terrorism Certificate."

  • In accordance with international law, an Anti-Terrorism Certificate imposes an obligation upon the transmitting financial institution to confirm that the funds to be transmitted are untainted by any connection to international terrorist organizations.
  • Verification protocols have been drafted in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and Interpol.
  • Following full compliance with those protocols, the transmitting financial institution must secure from the International Court of Justice an authenticated Anti-Terrorism Certificate prior to forwarding the subject funds.
  • Fees for the preparation and authentication of the Anti-Terrorism Certificate are available upon request from all participating financial institutions.
  • Payment for the certificates must be undertaken only via Western Union or MoneyGram.

It's A Scam!!!

First and foremost, let me make this perfectly clear: There is NO such thing as an Anti-Terrorist Certificate. The entire officious notice above is a complete fabrication. It's nonsense. It's rubbish. It's part of an ongoing scam to rip you off.

Is that clear enough? If you harbor any doubt, here are the results of a simple Google search using the terms "anti-terrorism certificate" - read through the scams carefully.

Advance-Fee Scheme

From at least August 2004 through April 2007, Nigerian citizens and Netherlands residents Ugochukwu Enwerem, a/k/a Joseph Smith and Kent Okojie solicited individuals in the United States, Europe and Australia by sending spam e‑mails informing the recipients that they had either won a foreign lottery, inherited a large sum of money from a long lost relative, or were eligible to recover outstanding construction contract payments.

When individuals responded to the e-mails, Enwerem and Okojie - posing as lawyers, bankers and European government officials - solicited fees from their victims. Among the explanations given for the requested payments were that the fees would purchase "anti‑terrorism certificates," "EU bank clearances," "anti-money laundering certificates." In some cases, the victims were told that upon the payment of legal fees, they would be able to secure their purported lotto winnings, inheritance or contract payments. Enwerem and Okojie instructed U.S. victims to wire funds, using Western Union and other money transfer services, to them and their designees in The Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.  This fraud is popularly referred to as an "advance fee scam."

A Quick Contest (no cheating!)

Okay, I admit, even I find it hard to believe that folks fall for such nonsense (even back in 2004) or that they continue to believe in this crap in 2011. Nonetheless, as a three-decade veteran lawyer who has represented more than enough duped investors during my career, I know that if were not for human gullibility, I would have very little to do for a living.

Nonetheless, don't read ahead. Let me pose two question to you. How about we consider it a contest?

QUESTION: How many victims do you think actually sent in money?

QUESTION: What was the amount of the payments from those defrauded?

ANSWER: Amazingly, at least 18 U.S. and international victims were defrauded of more than $9.5 million during the period when Enwerem was a member of the conspiracy.

Long Arm of the Law

Okojie and Enwerem were charged in a June 2007 complaint and extradited to the United States from the Netherlands, where they had been in custody on Dutch charges. Subsequently, they were indicted in the U.S. in July 2007.

In September 2009, Defendant Okojie pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud. In November 2010, Okojie was sentenced to 72 months in prison.

In March 2010, following six days of trial and only four hours of deliberation, a federal jury in the Western District of North Carolina found Enwerem guilty on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and on 14 counts of wire fraud. He faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy count and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the 14 wire fraud counts.

On February 24, 2011, Enwerem was sentenced in North Carolina federal court to 108 months in prison, ordered to serve three years of supervised release thereafter, and ordered to forfeit $9,435,815 and to pay restitution in that same amount jointly and severally with his co-defendant Kent Okojie.

SIDE BAR: Readers of "Street Sweeper" and "" are familiar with my history of tirades against the lowlifes who fill our email inboxes with a daily assortment of spam and scam. Although many of the schemes are so outlandish as to frequently be laughable, the unfortunate side of these frauds is that many elderly, poor, and unsophisticated folks fall for the promise of riches and find their bank accounts emptied or their life savings destroyed.

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