llegedly used bogus
government letters to entice victims to steal
SACRAMENTO — The Secret Service has arrested a Sacramento man on charges that he and coconspirators in Canada and South Africa defrauded victims around the world, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Roland Adams, 26, is alleged to have used bogus bank Web sites to entice victims after they were sent letters that purported to be from officials with various African government agencies.
The letters said the officials were attempting to steal government money but needed the recipient’s help.
In return, the recipient was promised a percentage of the money, often several million dollars, the U.S. attorney’s office said. That money was said to be held in offshore banks to be transferred to the recipient’s account once certain fees were paid — fees ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars to be sent to bank “agents” in South Africa and Canada.
Adams’ alleged variation on a common scam was to create Internet Web sites including Afribankcorp.com and BancofAfrica.com that appeared to be legitimate, prosecutors said.
The Web sites contained a “foreign payment verification” link, prosecutors said, where recipients could enter their “authorization code” to see the amount of money they supposedly would be sent if they paid the bank fees.
Adams and others also posed as bank employees and communicated with potential victims by phone, fax and e-mail, prosecutors alleged.
Once victims sent in their money, prosecutors said, a portion was routed to Adams in Sacramento through accounts in Canada and elsewhere.
Prosecutors did not immediately name the other alleged participants.
Adams was arrested Monday at his downtown Sacramento office, and has a court appearance next Monday. He is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.
Prosecutors also are seeking to seize his house, two bank accounts, and other assets they allege he acquired with money from the scheme.
He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
It could not be immediately determined if he has retained an attorney. No telephone listing for Adams was available.