June 25, 2023

SFO announces plan to pay fraud victims from frozen funds from US-sanctioned Lebanese bank

The UK Serious Fraud Office recently announced that victims of a worldwide email fraud orchestrated by Abdallah Ali Jammal in 2002 will be repaid their stolen funds.  The SFO reports that, pending the High Court’s approval, each victim is expected to recover the approximate amounts stolen from them from funds that were bound for a sanctioned Lebanese bank that the SFO was able to freeze as part of a new trial approach to victim reparation.

According to the SFO, many of Jammal’s victims lost tens of thousands of pounds as the result of a scam in which they received unsolicited emails that falsely claimed to need their help releasing substantial sums of money from countries, including Nigeria, in exchange for the payment of a commission.  In 2021, the SFO determined that Jammal could not realistically be convicted for the scam because he fled the country before he could be charged.  Due to these unique circumstances, the SFO was permitted to freeze Jammal’s accounts, including more than £150,000 bound for family-controlled Jammal Trust Bank in Lebanon, an entity that remains subject to US sanctions for facilitating bank transactions for a terrorist organization.

The SFO, which had identified a number of the fraud victims, continues to work with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Australian Federal Police, and European authorities to trace the stolen funds back to each of the victims’ accounts.  The SFO will present the victims’ claims before the High Court within six months.

SFO News Release