Tuesday, July 5, 2022

U.S. nabs Nigerians in $4.1 million bank fraud

A substantial part of a fraudulent scheme was committed from outside the United States, specifically Nigeria.

• December 3, 2021
US Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice

Hyattsville Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud Conspiracy That Intended to Cause a Loss of More Than $4.1 Million to Victim Businesses

Defendant Participated in a Bank Fraud Conspiracy that Compromised the Identity of More Than 50 Victims

Baltimore, Maryland – Oyekanmi Oworu, age 35, of Hyattsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. 

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

According to his guilty plea, between February 2017 and July 2020, Oworu conspired with co-defendant Babtunde Ajibawo, age 55, of Essex, United Kingdom and others to fraudulently obtain checks made out to legitimate businesses, then fraudulently register shell companies to obtain state business certificates in the identical or similar name of the legitimate businesses to which the checks were made payable. 

The conspiracy also used the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Modernized Internet Employer Identification Number (EIN) and the fraudulently obtained social security numbers of real individuals to obtain an EIN for the fraudulent business.

Specifically, on February 7, 2017, Oworu opened a bank account at a victim financial institution in the name of a real individual and deposited a stolen check made payable to a legitimate business for $265,168.20. Oworu subsequently withdrew the proceeds.

Additionally, on November 20, 2018, Oworu opened a bank account at a victim financial institution in a similar name of a legitimate business using the means and identification of A.S, a real individual.

After opening the account, Oworu deposited a stolen check made payable to the legitimate business for $58,713.50. Video surveillance captured Oworu depositing the stolen check in Washington, D.C.

During the course of the scheme to defraud, Oworu communicated with co-conspirators regarding the allocation of stolen proceeds, including the money he would personally receive for opening fraudulent bank accounts and depositing stolen checks. Specifically, on May 2, 2019, Oworu asked Ajibawo to send $3,000 to him and the balance to another co-conspirator in Fayetteville, Georgia 

Further, as detailed in the Superseding Indictment, Oworu and his co-conspirators attempted to conceal their criminal actions and evade law enforcement by relocating the fraud scheme to other jurisdictions. A substantial part of a fraudulent scheme was committed from outside the United States, specifically Nigeria.

In total, Oworu and his co-conspirators intended to cause a loss of at least $4.1 million to victim businesses, caused an actual loss of at least $756,175.30, and compromised the identifying information of more than 50 individual victims.

Co-defendant Ajibawo pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud on July 8, 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 8, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Oworu faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison followed by up to five of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence for aggravated identity theft. As part of his plea agreement, Oworu will also be required to pay restitution. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for March 10, 2022 at 9:15 a.m. 

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary W. Setzer and Judson T. Mihok, who are prosecuting the case.

We have recently deactivated our website's comment provider in favour of other channels of distribution and commentary. We encourage you to join the conversation on our stories via our Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages.

More from Peoples Gazette

Bolt

Economy

Bolt shuns Nigeria, chooses Kenya as its regional headquarters

The ride-hailing company has chosen Nairobi, Kenya to host its top-brass leadership overseeing operations across Africa.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)

Africa

Ethiopia, rebel group trade blame over Oromiya massacre

The government blames the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a banned splinter group of an opposition party, for the killings.

National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)

NationWide

NYSC partners financial institutions on start-up loans for corpers

The partnership is expected to favour corpers interested in running their own business.

Simi Ogunleye

Showbiz

Simi named Spotify EQUAL Africa artiste for July

Nigerian singer and songwriter Simi Ogunleye, popularly known as Simi, has been selected as Spotify EQUAL Africa music programme ambassador for July.

Bandits

States

Bandits kidnap naval officer in Kogi, demand N3 million ransom

“I’m appealing to security operatives to please help rescue my husband from the hands of his abductors,’’ the naval officer’s wife begged.”

cassava and starch

Economy

95% of starch used in Nigeria imported despite being largest cassava producer: FG

“We are also the largest producer of cassava in the world,” he said. “Yes, currently, we import over 95 per cent of the starch we use.”