Con Man Charged In 'Nigerian Letter'Scam
SPOKANE, Wash. - (02/10/06) A convicted con man was chargedThursday with bilking a local title agent who stole more than$670,000 from credit union and bank customers so she could pursue aget-rich scheme known as the Nigerian Letter.Authorities charged that Terry Ayeni, 42, a Nigerian national,duped Donna J. Burbank into looting funds she held in escrow forhomebuyers and their lenders to help Ayeni and an accomplicerecover what they billed as $35 million in cash that had beenblackened to get it through U.S. Customs. Burbank is serving athree-year prison sentence for stealing the funds, $170,000 of itfrom Coulee Dam FCU. The Nigerians convinced Burbank they neededfunds to pay to have the cash cleaned after it cleared Customs,according to Tom Rice, assistant U.S. Attorney in Spokane.He even flew her and her husband to New York and New Jerseyand demonstrated how the blackened cash was to becleaned, Rice told The Credit Union Journal. Ayeni iscurrently serving time in Ohio for an identical scam in New Yorkand is scheduled to be deported to Nigeria when he is released inApril. But the new charges, 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy,could keep him in prison longer. Burbank, 50, owned Ferry CountyTitle and Escrow Co., in Republic, and stole money she was holdingin trust for customers and their lenders, after exhausting her ownsavings on the scheme. She is currently in federal prison inCalifornia.