Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United States Attorney’s Office in Nebraska and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have announced the disclosure of scam indictments and treasury sanctions against six Nigerians.
The disclosure was made by US Attorney Joe Kelly for the District of Nebraska and Special Agent in Charge Kristi K Johnson of the FBI Omaha field office.
The offences included conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud and identity theft and access device fraud.
The affected Nigerians named are Richard Uzuh, Micheal Olorunyomi, Alex Ogunshakin, Felix Okpoh, Abiola Kayode and Nnamdi Benson.
The United States indictment of the six Nigerians was for their involvement in Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes.
The schemes, according to the United States, included individual victims and victim businesses both in Nebraska and other states.
‘BECs are sophisticated cybercrimes involving electronic transfer payments or automated clearinghouse transfers.
‘The indictments charge the defendants with one or more of the following violations of federal law: 1) Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000; 2) Identity theft and access device fraud, each punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The Nigerian nationals charged and still at large are Richard Uzuh, Micheal Olorunyomi, Alex Ogunshakin, Felix Okpoh, Abiola Kayode and Nnamdi Benson,’ the United States Government said.
The United States, however, said an indictment was a formal accusation returned by a grand jury upon establishing probable cause, adding that indictment was not evidence of guilt and defendants were entitled to a presumption of innocence.
The United States Government further said two related defendants have entered pleas of guilty.
‘Adewale Aniyeloye was sentenced in the District of Nebraska to 96 months in prison for wire fraud. Onome Ijomone received a 60-month sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
‘Because of the BEC scheme set forth in the unsealed indictments, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has taken the extraordinary step of imposing financial sanctions on each of the six fugitives. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property held by these individuals and subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and other persons are blocked from engaging in financial transactions with these fugitives,’ the United States added.
In the statement made available to Daily Sun in Abuja by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, US Attorney Joe Kelly thanked the efforts of the Omaha FBI and more particularly, the excellent work of the FBI Omaha Field Office Cyber Task Force.
‘He cautioned the public that every day we see victims ranging from the elderly losing their accumulated life’s savings, to large scale businesses falling prey to BEC, romance, COVID and any number of other opportune scams. Additionally, if the public has any information regarding the current whereabouts of the six fugitives please call law enforcement immediately,’ the statement read.
Johnson said about the development that ‘the FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens. Today’s charges are another successful example of our commitment to working together with our foreign colleagues abroad and we’re sending a strong message to the criminals who perpetrate these BEC schemes. We will continue coming after you, no matter where you are. And to the public, we will keep doing everything we can to protect you.
‘This case was investigated by the FBI. The law enforcement actions taken related to these prosecutions were assisted by the efforts of law enforcement counterparts from Nigeria. The Department of Justice and the FBI wish to thank their partners in Nigeria, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and National Central Bureau, Abuja – INTERPOL (Nigeria Police Force), for their past and continued assistance in pursuing those that engage in Business Email Compromise and other fraud schemes.
‘Wanted posters contain additional details about the six individuals still at large,’ the statement further read.