A Nigerian, Obinwanne ‘Invictus’ Okeke has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused about $11 million in losses to his victims.
“Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims,” said Raj Parekh, acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in a statement obtained by newsmen on Tuesday.
“(The) sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes.”
According to court documents, Okeke, 33, 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.
The conspirators obtained and compiled hundreds of victims’ credentials, including victims in the Eastern District of Virginia.
As part of the scheme, Okeke and other conspirators engaged in an email compromise scheme targeting Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment. In April 2018, a Unatrac executive fell prey to a phishing email that allowed conspirators to capture login credentials.
The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices. Okeke participated in victimising Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.
Additionally, Okeke engaged in other cyber frauds, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims.
“The FBI will not allow cybercriminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office.
“This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cybercriminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”
On June 18, 2020, Okeke pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Thirty-three-year-old Okeke was named on Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 For 2016, featured on the cover of the magazine in 2016. In 2017, CNBCA named him a finalist for Young Business Leader of the Year (West Africa).
“I am passionate about people and strongly believes (sic) in partnerships.
“I am the founder of Invictus Group and have been extensively involved in sourcing, structuring, implementing and monitoring various private equity investments in African and Australian markets, and I have over 10 years of investment experience.
“I have been recognised by Forbes as one of the 30 entrepreneurs under 30 to watch. The leading publication also featured me on its cover for June 2016,” Okeke claimed on his LinkedIn profile.