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U.S. charges 6 Nigerians -Richard Uzuh, Micheal Olorunyomi, Alex Ogunshakin, Felix Okpoh, Nnamdi Benson and Abiola Kayode – with defrauding $6m from Americans

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The United States on Tuesday blacklisted and charged six Nigerians with $6 million fraud. The government said they defrauded Americans by posing as business executives or romantic partners online.

The United States Treasury Department said the six Nigerian men either used dating sites to build romantic relationships with Americans and then requested large sums of money under false pretenses or targeted U.S. businesses by impersonating executives and then requested wire transfers from legitimate corporate accounts.

The United States Justice Department also announced the unsealing of scam indictments on Tuesday against the six Nigerian nationals.

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The government charged the men with various wire fraud, fraud and identity theft crimes. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000.

The six men are Richard Uzuh, Micheal Olorunyomi, Alex Ogunshakin, Felix Okpoh, Nnamdi Benson and Abiola Kayode.

U.S. prosecutors said two others involved in the scheme — Adewale Aniyeloye and Onome Ijomone had earlier entered plea deals and were sentenced in the District of Nebraska.

Richard Uzuh is one of six men believed to be residing in Nigeria wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for scamming Americans of more than $6 million online. Photo courtesy of Federal Bureau of Investigation/Cyber’s Most Wanted

Adewale Aniyeloye and Onome Ijomone were sentenced to eight years in jail for wire fraud and five years in jail for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, respectively.

The six men are believed to be in Nigeria and have been added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber’s Most Wanted list.

“We will continue coming after you, no matter where you are,” said Special Agent in Charge Kristi K. Johnson of the Omaha FBI field office.

Read full statement by U.S. Justice Department

U. S. Attorney Kelly and S. A. C. Johnson Announce the Unsealing of Scam Indictments and Treasury Sanctions Against Nigerian Nationals

United States Attorney Joe Kelly and Kristi K. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of the Omaha field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced the unsealing of indictments charging six Nigerian nationals for their involvement in Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes. The schemes included individual victims and victim businesses both in Nebraska and other states. BECs are sophisticated cyber crimes 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. An indictment is a formal accusation returned by a grand jury upon establishing probable cause. The indictment is not evidence of guilt and defendants are entitled to a presumption of innocence. Two related defendants have entered pleas of guilty. Adewale Aniyeloye was sentenced in the District of Nebraska to 96 months’ imprisonment for wire fraud. Onome Ijomone received a 60 month sentence for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The unsealed indictments are attached.

Indictment 1

Indictment 2

Indictment 3

Because of the BEC scheme set forth in the unsealed indictments the Department of 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.

United States 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.

Special Agent in Charge Johnson noted, “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.”  FBI Omaha Special Agent Jacob Foiles will be available for questions regarding the Business Email Compromise investigation.  The media availability will be at 3:00 pm TODAY at FBI headquarters, 4411 S. 121st Court.  If you plan to attend, please email FBI Public Affairs, aeadams@fbi.gov for instructions for entering the property.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation 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 attached to this release contain additional details about the six individuals still at large. 

RICHARD IZUCHUKWU UZUH

ALEX AFOLABI OGUNSHAKIN

MICHEAL OLORUNYOMI

FELIX OSILAMA OKPOH

ABIOLA AYORINDE KAYODE

NNAMDI ORSON BENSON

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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