Blaine man sentenced in email scam

Published on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A Blaine man has been sentenced to five years in prison after scamming millions of dollars from victims across the country.

In addition to the five-year prison term, Scott Alan Stuart, 51, must also serve three years under supervised release and pay millions of dollars owed in court-ordered restitution, according to the U.S. district attorney’s office in Seattle. The exact amount Stuart must pay will be determined in the next few months.

At the December 9 sentencing, U.S. district court judge Robert Lasnik noted Stuart was originally a victim of a similar scam but then became a scammer himself. Lasnik said Stuart used most of the money to feed Stuart’s addiction to drugs and gambling, and cautioned anyone else against falling victim to similar scams.

“My message to victim groups is be skeptical,” Lasnik said. “Keep your guard up. People are waiting to prey on your trusting nature and your kindness.”

­­Since at least 2003, Stuart had convinced numerous victims to send him money under the pretense that he needed it in order to claim an inheritance his father supposedly left him in a Canadian bank, according to the district attorney’s office. Stuart told the victims that his father had made millions of dollars constructing an oil pipeline in Nigeria and that Stuart needed money to pay taxes that would allow him to collect the $30 million his father had left him.

Stuart attracted investors with promised high returns for what he described as loans. He promised to pay the loans back quickly, though the bulk of the money collected from others ended up being used for Stuart’s own expenses. Court documents indicated Stuart’s would-be investors sent him amounts ranging from $500 to $45,100.

An accomplice, Ferndale resident Wayne Sewell, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on April 25 and was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution. Sewell aided Stuart in withdrawing about $153,000 from a bank in Bellingham and delivering the money in cash to Stuart, according to Sewell’s plea agreement.