Tuesday, April 23, 2024

U.S. Secret Service indicts Lagos-based Yahoo Boy; confiscates Binance account over $2.5 million scam

Mr Shanu first got on the U.S. security radar after a victim’s mother in May.

• December 5, 2023
Olamide Oladosu Shanu and his passport data page
Olamide Oladosu Shanu and his passport data page

The United States Secret Service has taken over the Binance account of 32-year-old male of Nigerian descent, Olamide Shanu, after tracing his account to a $2.5 million wire fraud, money laundering and sextortion scheme, court filings obtained by Peoples Gazette have revealed. 

The allegations mounted against Mr Shanu and the manner the fraud scheme was perpetrated mirrored the operation of internet fraudsters in Nigeria known as Yahoo boys.

Scouting social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat for male teenagers and unsuspecting adults to defraud, Mr Shanu posed as a female to obtain the explicit images and videos of his victims after forming a deceptive intimate relationship with them. He then threatened to send the nudes to their friends should they refuse to send the requested sum and more sexual videos.

“Hello Fams this is [(CC-3)] naked pictures and dick he’s [(CC-3’s Username)] on Instagram,” the indictment sheet against Mr Shanu filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho and stamped by clerk Stephen Kenyon on November 14 read.

“We, he tried to hurt me so I’m spreading his nudes rn to make him feel ashamed. All I want you guys to share this (sic) pictures all over the world till it goes viral and get to all his friends and family, that’s all,” reads a screenshot Mr Shanu sent to sextort a victim on April 3 while attaching the victim’s name, age and address. 

The Binance account received over 84.66478598 BTC approximately $2.6 million and $2.5 million withdrawn in Bitcoin over a period of three years, investigations showed. Current balance stood at 0 BTC as of the time investigators seized the account. 

The victim, identified as V1 to protect his identity as a minor, said that sometime in May, he accepted a friend request from @chloe.walterz on Snapchat. He developed an intimate friendship with his new acquaintance, whom he assumed to be a white female in her 20s, and they started exchanging nude photos and videos, which set in motion the sextortion scheme.

However, the relationship soon soured after @chloe.walterz threatened him to pay $300 or risk his nudes getting sent to his friends on social media. He said that he quickly complied. 

Another $200 and $500 were sent totalling the payments to $1000. According to the victim, he explained his dilemma to his mother who promptly notified the authorities.

The teenager subsequently blocked an insatiable @chloe.walters whose demands for money had mushroomed. Shortly after he blocked the scammer, he accepted another friend request from one Camille_smith96 on the same platform.

Camille, his new friend, sent him a draft message of his nudes — which he previously shared with only Chloe — poised to be distributed to his friends on Snapchat, save the send button. Still V1 called the scammer’s bluff by immediately blocking the new user without succumbing to their demands.

By using warrants to obtain the Snapchat logs of both accounts, investigators were able to link their IP addresses to the same location in Lagos, Nigeria, indicating that Mr Shanu, whose digital footprints were found to have orchestrated the scam, was in fact the one controlling both accounts.

Further investigations revealed that the two accounts were hacked in February from their original owners who were minors as well to commit fraud, and that the original usernames and phone numbers were changed to Nigerian numbers. 

Victim 2 or V2 was another underage victim forced to be a conduit for fraudulent transactions. He received payment from other victims into his Venmo account and forwarded them into a crypto wallet traced to Mr Shanu after authorities presented a warrant to Binance to obtain his wallet information.

V2 on the other hand accepted a friend request on Instagram from a Camillesmith on April 3 and thereafter switched to Snapchat where he frequently chatted with Chloe and also exchanged sexual explicit images and videos.

He was, however, quick to notice the discrepancy in the names particularly because he was receiving Apple iMessages from chloewalterz@icloud.com. As soon as he asked his new friend to clarify her identity, he began to receive threats of sextortion.

To bolster his threat, Mr Shanu showed V2 a screenshot containing a draft message of his nude photos, name, full address and location to be shared to his contacts on social media if he refused to do his bidding.

V2 was blackmailed into paying $300 every Friday. After paying $1500, Mr Shanu who controlled the Chloe and Camille accounts said he could stop after his payments reached $10,000. 

But not only was V2 being sextorted, his Venmo account was also used to siphon funds from other cyberstalked victims which he then transferred to Mr Shanu’s Binance accounts. V2 received funds from V1.

V2 funded cryto wallets 1HYabmNtJa8dBdrtfdHHGMLbCxtZhHS4TU (“1HYab”) and bc1qhdsw4nvhmyvzpz9ys3pwnm5l5m2esn28gke6p2 (“bc1qh”), according to USSS agent Luke Lack who led investigations on the matter.

Obtaining the Know Your Customer (KYC) information of the “1HYab” account on legal request, investigators found Mr Shanu’s Nigerian passport linked to the account as its owner and olamideshanu011@gmail.com listed as his email. 

Furthermore, the IP address used in accessing the Binance account was consistent with the one of Snapchat usernames chloe.walters and camille_smith96, further demonstrating Mr Shanu’s culpability in the scam.

The Binance account had received over 84.66478598 BTC approximately $2.6 million and withdrawn approximately $2.5 million in Bitcoin over a period of three years, investigations showed. Current balance stood at 0 BTC as of the time

Investigators obtained a warrant for the Gmail and discovered that various photographs on Mr Shanu’s Google account matched the photograph on his passport linked to his Binance account.

Exam results of West African Examination Council and screenshots of fraud victims negotiating sextortion payments with Chloewalterz88 confirmed suspicions that Mr Shanu was indeed a Yahoo boy whose hands were far from clean.

It was however unclear whether Mr Shanu is aware of the damning allegations and the 13 indictments hanging over his head as efforts to reach him via the telephone line found by investigators on his Binance account were unsuccessful.

Mr Shanu is facing 13 indictment charges in the U.S. ranging from conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit extortion, interstate communication with intent to commit extortion to fraud and money laundering forfeiture that would have him surrender assets acquired fraudulently to the U.S. government.

One of the many sextortion messages that Mr Shanu and his accomplices sent to threaten their victims according to the U.S. Court reads:

“Hi I have ur nudes and everything needed to ruin your life, i have screenshot all ur followers and tags and those that comment on post. I can send this(sic) nudes to everyone in your city till it go virals and send this all females on your list and your family if u don’t cooperate… all u have to do is to cooperate with me and i will not expose u, if u block me i will ruin your life.”

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