NORFOLK — A Virginia Beach woman with a criminal history that includes previous convictions for her participating in a lottery scam, was sentenced Monday to 26 months in a federal prison for her role in a recent Jamaican lottery scam.
Nena Kerny Kochuga, 54, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in May. She faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“Kochuga and her co-conspirators lied, cheated, and stole from their victims out of greed,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia. “The financial and emotional harm these scams cause elderly victims and their family members can be utterly devastating. This prosecution should stand as a warning to others considering scamming vulnerable victims: We will not tolerate this criminal activity and will continue to prosecute these cases federally.”
According to court documents, Kochuga received tens of thousands of dollars from victims around the United States. The victims had been contacted over the phone and told by conspirators they had won a multimillion dollar lottery.
The conspirators would then tell the victims that, in order to receive their winnings, they had to mail or wire money for taxes to Kochuga in Virginia Beach. Kochuga would keep a portion of the money for herself, and wire the rest of the money to conspirators in Jamaica and other countries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prior to this case, Kochuga had been convicted for the same exact scheme in Virginia Beach, federal prosecutors said.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the Postal Service is not used to perpetuate predatory schemes that target vulnerable victims,” said Peter R. Rendina, inspector in charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division. “We are committed to protecting our customers from being defrauded of everything they’ve worked so hard to attain.”