Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Nigerian Akhabue Onoimoimilin jailed in U.S. for $2 million scams

A 29-year-old Nigerian, Akhabue Onoimoimilin, aka David Harrison, has been jailed in the U.S. for $2 million scams.

• July 8, 2021
A hacker on a computer used to illustrate the story.
A hacker on a computer used to illustrate the story.

A 29-year-old Nigerian, Akhabue Onoimoimilin, aka David Harrison, has been jailed in the U.S. for $2 million scams.

In Austin on Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced Mr Onoimoimilin residing in Houston, to 87 months’ imprisonment.

He was arrested and prosecuted for participating in a money-laundering conspiracy that swindled more than $2.2 million from victims using Business Email Compromise (BEC) and romance scams.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ordered that Mr Onoimoimilin pay $865,210.78 in restitution to his victims and be placed on supervised release for two years after his prison term.

Mr Pitman also ordered a money judgment of $50,605 against Mr Onoimoimilin in the proceeds he received from the scheme.

On February 2, 2021, Mr Onoimoimilin pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, admitting that beginning prior to June 2015, he used a fraudulent foreign passport in the name of David Harrison to open bank accounts in Austin and Houston.

Mr Onoimoimilin used these financial accounts to receive, launder and distribute wire transfers to coconspirators illegally receiving proceeds of BEC and romance schemes.

For his efforts, the Nigerian collected between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of more than $420,000 in fraudulently obtained funds.

“The types of fraud committed by Mr Onoimoimilin not only have lasting ramifications for the affected victims but also threaten the integrity of our country’s financial systems,” said special agent Tim Tubbs of the Homeland Security Investigation’s San Antonio Division.

In a BEC scheme, scammers target businesses and individuals making wire transfer payments, especially those with access to company finances. The scammers trick the employees into making wire transfer payments to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners, but the money ends up in accounts controlled by the fraudsters.

Sometimes the scammers use computer intrusion techniques to alter legitimate payment request emails, changing the recipient bank accounts. Sometimes they send spoofed emails from email addresses similar to the real email accounts used by trusted partners.

In romance scams, conspirators often located outside the U.S. review established online dating sites, targeting victims who appear lonely based upon their profiles. The fraudsters create fake profiles and exploit the emotional vulnerabilities of the victims.

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