The FBI and other US Federal agents have arrested twenty-four individuals, among them Nigerians, for their involvement in a large-scale fraud and money laundering operation that targeted citizens, corporations, and financial institutions throughout the United States.
Two of the Nigerians, Afeez Olaide Adeniran and Blessing Ojo face a separate charge of wire fraud. The indictment alleges that Adeniran defrauded a homebuyer of $40,000 intended for a real estate transaction.
“The indictment alleges that due to a computer intrusion and false invoicing scam, Ojo caused a media company in California to send payments totalling $89,140 to a bank account controlled by one of the defendants. In total, the victim sent $646,840, as a result of the fraud”.
Using Business email compromise schemes, romance fraud scams, and retirement account scams, among other frauds, the suspects duped numerous victims into losing more than $30 million, the Department of Justice, Northern District of Georgia announced on Friday.
The arrests followed a similar crackdown by FBI on scores of Nigerian fraudsters in California and some other parts last August.
“Fraud schemes, like the ones perpetrated and facilitated by these defendants, inflict considerable losses on citizens, companies, and the financial system,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.
“Some of these schemes target the elderly and often deplete the victims’ entire life savings. These arrests affirm the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens.”
“The FBI would like to thank our numerous federal, state and local law enforcement partners who helped make these arrests possible,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “There is no way we can make the victims of these schemes, many who have lost their life savings, whole again. Hopefully the arrests and pending prosecutions will at least give them solace that someone is being held accountable for their losses.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: The defendants served as money launderers for other individuals throughout the world who conducted cyber-enabled fraud, including business email compromise schemes, romance scams, and retirement account scams, targeted at companies and individuals across the United States.
The defendants and co-conspirators facilitated BEC schemes, romance scams, and retirement account scams by receiving and distributing fraudulent funds throughout the United States and the world.
Over the course of the conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators laundered over $30 million in fraud proceeds. The defendants created multiple sham companies that did not have physical premises, earn legitimate income, or pay wages to employees.
In turn, the defendants opened business bank accounts at multiple financial institutions to facilitate receipt of the fraudulent money. The defendants also opened personal bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds, often using false identities and victims’ identities.
After funds were deposited into the defendants’ bank accounts, the money was quickly withdrawn from the accounts and circulated among the defendants.