Saturday, May 21, 2022

Over half of Nigerians in our prisons jailed for fraud: U.S. Govt

“We urge you to stop corresponding with whoever sent the message, and please do not send any money to Nigeria,” the embassy warned U.S. citizens.

• April 8, 2022
Obinwanne 'Invictus' Okeke
Obinwanne ‘Invictus’ Okeke

The United States Bureau of Prisons has disclosed that half the number of Nigerians in its correctional facilities had been convicted and sentenced for fraud. 

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Peoples Gazette, out of the 134 Nigerians currently in U.S. prisons, those convicted for fraud comprise 61.67 per cent of the total number of Nigerians in U.S. prisons.

“We receive inquiries every day from people who have been defrauded for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars by Internet contacts they thought were their friends or loved ones,” said the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. “Internet scams are attempts by con artists to convince you to send them money. In Nigeria, these scams are also referred to as 419 scams.”

It noted that most common scams involved someone allegedly in Nigeria. 

“Inevitably, the sender is making an appeal for money. If this is someone you have not met personally, we urge you to stop corresponding with whoever sent the message, and please do not send any money to Nigeria,” the embassy warned U.S. citizens.

Obinwanne ‘Invictus’ Okeke was sentenced to 10 years in prison for involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused about $11 million in losses to his victims. Mr Okeke had operated a group of companies known as the Invictus Group based in Nigeria and elsewhere. From approximately 2015 to 2019, Okeke and others engaged in a conspiracy to conduct various computer-based frauds. 

Last month, Oyekanmi Oworu was sentenced in March to three years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and Samson A. Oguntuyi was sentenced to over four years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

In March 2021, Seun Banjo Ojedokun, was jailed nine years for a money laundering conspiracy related to a romance scam and other fraud schemes. 

In July, a U.S. court jailed Nigerian money launderer 38-year-old Olumide Bankole Morakinyo for engaging in a scheme that defrauded the Texas Employees Retirement System.

Mr Morakinyo, who resided in Canada, was sentenced to eight years in prison and repayment of $975,863 in restitution to multiple victims for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“This defendant’s scheme and those like it victimise our most vulnerable citizens and cost taxpayers billions each year,” said U.S. attorney Ashley Hoff. “Our office will use all of the available legal tools to identify and bring to justice those who commit cyber-enabled fraud and launder the proceeds.”

Last November, two Nigerians, Opeyemi Abidemi Adeoso and Benjamin Adeleke Ifebajo were sentenced to a combined 22 and a half years in prison.

A third co-conspirator, Temitope Aminat Folorunsho, who pleaded guilty in July 2020 to multiple counts of wire fraud, money laundering, use of a false passport, and conspiracy, was sentenced in July 2021 to 37 months in prison.

In November, two Nigerians arrested by the FBI were sentenced to 22 years to charges of wire fraud, money laundering, use of a false passport, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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