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Financial Crimes

2 US Customs impersonators sentenced to prison

MIAMI - Two individuals were sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to impersonate U.S. officers and to commit wire fraud following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

On Nov. 22, Saleumsak Khammungkhune, 57, of San Diego, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas in the Southern District of Florida, to 27 months in prison, three years supervised release and ordered to pay $26,272 in restitution.

On Nov. 16, co-conspirator David Johnson, aka Ukoha Eke, 39, a Nigerian national residing in Upper Marlboro, Md., was sentenced to six months (time served) in prison followed by five months of house arrest.

"Impersonating a federal agent undermines the confidence people have in their government when information from imposters proves not to be true," said David P. D'Amato, special agent in charge of ICE OPR. "Impersonation in the law enforcement arena further poses a serious threat to public safety and will not be tolerated. ICE OPR will continue to criminally investigate and charge individuals who impersonate DHS agents or officers."

The scheme involved the defendants posing as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers in a conspiracy which contacted victims through the Internet. Victims were told that $10 million had arrived for them from Nigeria, but that they had to pay U.S. customs duties and fees to obtain the money. Through this "advance fee" scheme, conspirators defrauded victims out of approximately $300,000.

Khammungkhune was personally responsible for stealing between $70,000 and $120,000.

Khammungkhune obtained thousands of dollars in "fees" from both a 77-year-old victim, as well as, a disabled veteran of Operation Desert Storm.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kerry S. Baron.