MIL-OSI Security: Huntington Woman Sentenced to Prison for Role in Nigerian Fraud Scheme

1

Source: United States Attorneys General 13

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington woman was sentenced today to three months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for her role as a money mule in a Nigerian fraud scheme that scammed money from 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 that she received and wired fraudulent funds through numerous accounts she set up in her name at several different banks from May 2018 through July 2019. Dudding admitted that she did so at the direction of an individual she met online and knew as “Lucas Bennito Antonio” or “Lucas.” Dudding received numerous deposits in those bank accounts from “Lucas” and other individuals located in the United States and abroad. Dudding, and unnamed co-conspirators, would then transfer these funds to bank accounts located in Nigeria.

Dudding further admitted that she became aware that the activities of “Lucas” were not legitimate. A series of employees at the various banks questioned Dudding about her transactions, and in several instances closed her accounts for suspected fraud. To further the scheme, Dudding made false and fraudulent representations to these financial institutions to make it appear that the wire transfers were being sent for legitimate purposes. On April 26, 2019, Dudding sent a wire transfer of $39,000 from her account to an individual in Montana. Upon questioning by a bank employee, Dudding lied about the wire transfer to aid Lucas in completing the transfer of funds to the designated recipient in Montana.

Dudding further admitted that she withdrew victim funds for her personal benefit. According to Dudding, she used the funds to pay her utility and satellite television service. She also used the funds to purchase groceries, drug store 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 South Charleston Police Department.

United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Robeson prosecuted the case.

More information about the department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage.  Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.  The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office for Victims of Crime, which can be reached at https://www.ovc.gov.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:22-cr-1.

###

MIL Security OSI