This Virginia Beach woman was involved in a lottery scam. She’s now headed to prison

Nena Kerny Kochuga (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail)
Nena Kerny Kochuga (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Western Tidewater Regional Jail)

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.”

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.