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US authorities indict 11 Nigerians for money laundering

The United States Department of Justice has indicted 11 Nigerians for alleged money laundering, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft crime.

In an indictment document unsealed by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams and Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service, Patrick J. Freaney, the suspects were collectively accused of laundering millions of dollars in proceeds derived from business email compromises and romance fraud schemes.

According to the indictment charge unsealed in Manhattan Federal court on Wednesday, the 11 Nigerians were identified as Adedayo John, Oluwadamilola Akinpelu, Kazeem Raheem, Morakinyo Gbeyide and Warris Adenuga a.k.a Blue.

Others are Smart Agunbiade, Lateef Goloba, Samsondeen Goloba, Olawale Olaniyan, Olawoyin Peter Olanrewaju and Emmanuel Oronsaye-Ajayi.

Nine of the suspects were arrested Wednesday in the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York and presented before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in the Southern District of New York.

One suspect was arrested in the Southern District of Texas and presented in that district’s federal court while one suspect remains at large.

According to the indictment document, Attorney Damian Williams said, “As alleged, the defendants were part of a criminal enterprise that not only defrauded businesses by assuming the online identities of legitimate counterparties but also preyed on vulnerable elderly people, deceiving victims into sending money in phoney romance scams. Thanks to the Secret Service, the defendants are now facing federal felony charges.

“In some instances, business email compromise fraud schemes were used to trick businesses into transferring funds to bank accounts the victims believed were under the control of legitimate recipients of the funds as part of normal business operations.

“Unknown to the victims, the bank accounts were under the control of the Defendants or their co-conspirators.

“In other instances, romance scams were used, primarily through electronic messages sent via email, text messaging, social media, or online dating websites, to deceive victims.

“Many of the victims, many of whom were vulnerable older men and women – into believing they were in romantic relationships with fake identities, and then using false pretences to cause the victims to transfer funds to bank accounts controlled by the Defendants or their co-conspirators.

“As a result of these frauds, law enforcement officers have identified more than 50 victims who have transferred more than $9 million to bank accounts under the control of the Defendants.”

The offences carry a maximum sentence ranging from 20 to 30 years in prison if convicted.

However, Morakinyo Gbeyide, charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison if convicted.

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