US government declares six Nigerians wanted over internet-related crimes

The US government, on Tuesday, declared wanted six Nigerians who are currently on the run after they were indicted and charged for internet-related crimes.

According to the US Department of Justice, the six Nigerians were indicted by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Attorney’s Office in Nebraska for various cyber crimes ranging from romance scam to Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes.

The six runaway Nigerians are Richard Uzuh; Michael Olorunyomi; Alex Ogunshakin; Felix Okpoh; Abiola Kayode and Nnamdi Benson.

Among the charges filed against the six Nigerians by the Department of Justice were conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000; identity theft and access device fraud, each punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

It was gathered that Richard Uzuh led BEC and romance scam syndicate while a loss of $6.3 million was said to have been attributed to him. On his part, Michael Olorunyomi engaged in romance scam with victims losing money exceeding $1 million.

Afolabi Ogunsaking was described as a BEC and romance scammer who worked closely with Uzuh and others involved in the crime, while Felix Okpoh was described as a romance scammer and money launderer.

Nnamdi Benson was also described as a romance scammer and money launderer who also worked with Uzuh while Abiola Kayode was described as a BEC and romance scammer who worked with Uzuh and others.

Full text of the US Department of Justice statement on the indictment:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
US 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.

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.

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.

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