US authorities have announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors unsealed the dozens of indictments after 17 people were arrested and taken into custody in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States.
Most of the remainder of those indicted were believed to be in Nigeria, the US Justice Department said.
A statement from the Justice Department reads:
“A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerian nationals, with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network.
“The indictment was unsealed after law enforcement authorities this morning arrested 14 defendants across the United States, with 11 of those arrests taking place in the Los Angeles region. Two defendants were already in federal custody on other charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria.
“The indictment alleges that the 80 defendants and others used various online fraud schemes – including business email compromise (BEC) frauds, romance scams, and schemes targeting the elderly – to defraud victims out of millions of dollars. According to a criminal complaint also unsealed today, co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other countries contacted the lead defendants in the indictment – Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens – for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims. Once members of the conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network, according to the 145-page indictment.
“The indictment and criminal complaint allege that Iro and Igbokwe, who were among those arrested this morning, were involved in schemes resulting in the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million in fraudulently-obtained funds – and the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.
“The fraudsters targeted victims in the United States and across the globe, including individuals, small and large businesses, and law firms. Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly.
“This case is part of our ongoing efforts to protect Americans from fraudulent online schemes and to bring to justice those who prey upon American citizens and businesses,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use BEC schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims. This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators – no matter where they reside – and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”
“Today’s announcement highlights the extensive efforts that organized criminal groups will engage in to perpetrate BEC schemes that target American citizens and their hard-earned assets,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims. The FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide to continue to identify these cyber criminals and to dismantle their networks.”
“Iro and Igbokwe essentially were brokers of fraudulent bank accounts. According to the indictment, Iro and Igbokwe collected bank accounts, fielded requests for bank account information, provided that information to co-conspirators around the world, and laundered the money obtained from victims – all of this in exchange for a cut of the money stolen from victims of the various fraud schemes.
“If a bank account with a specific business name was required to trick a business-victim into making a payment, Iro and Igbokwe often coordinated with “money mules” to open accounts that could receive funds obtained, according to court documents. In addition to making the fake business name mirror the name of a legitimate company, members of the conspiracy routinely filed fictitious business name statements with the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder’s Office that were presented to banks when the fraudulent accounts were opened.
“Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account or a money services account, Iro and Igbokwe allegedly coordinated with others to further launder the funds. Members of the conspiracy sometimes wired funds to other bank accounts under their control; in other cases, they simply withdrew funds as cash or negotiable instruments such as cashier’s checks.
“When stolen funds were withdrawn as cash, the defendants frequently used illicit money exchangers to move funds overseas, generally avoiding transferring the funds directly through banking institutions, the indictment alleges. To do this, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the transfer of a victim’s funds from a fraudulent bank account they controlled to U.S. bank accounts belonging to illicit money exchangers. Those money exchangers, in turn, used a Nigerian banking application to transfer other funds in naira (₦), the currency of Nigeria, from Nigerian bank accounts they controlled to the Nigerian bank accounts specified by Iro and Igbokwe. This method was used to transfer millions of dollars to Nigerian co-conspirators without directly transferring funds overseas. The indictment alleges that Jerry Ikogho, 50, of Carson (who was taken into custody on Sunday), and Adegoke Moses Ogungbe, 34, of Fontana, were among those who served as illicit money exchangers for the conspiracy.
“Each of the 80 defendants named in the indictment is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft. A number of the defendants also face substantive fraud and money laundering charges.
“Additionally, Iro, Igbokwe, Ikogho, Ogungbe and three other defendants –Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi, 30, of Los Angeles, Tityaye Marina Mansbangura, 33, of Palmdale, and Obi Madekwe, 31, of Nigeria – are charged with operating illegal money transmitting businesses. Ogungbe and Mansbangura were also among those arrested this morning, and Umejesi is a fugitive currently being sought by authorities.
“Iro, Igbokwe and Chuks Eroha, 39, face additional charges for attempting to destroy their phones when the FBI executed a search warrant in July 2017. Iro also is charged with lying to the FBI in an interview conducted during the search. The complaint alleges that, when the FBI arrived to conduct the court-authorized search at Iro’s apartment in Carson, Iro broke his phone in half, while Igbokwe and Eroha threw phones from a bedroom window of the apartment. While Iro claimed he previously had broken the phone during an argument with his wife, the complaint details how the FBI was able to determine that the phone was operational until seconds after the FBI knocked on Iro’s apartment door to execute the search warrant. Eroha is believed to have fled to Nigeria shortly after the FBI executed the warrant.
“The charges contained in the criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
“This investigation is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the United States Department of State provided substantial assistance during the investigation.
“Several agencies provided support during today’s takedown or during the investigation, including the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the California Franchise Tax Board.
“Many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and foreign authorities around the world. In particular, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office thank the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Osnabrück, Germany for their contributions.
“This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Joseph B. Woodring of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section.
“The FBI in 2017 issued a report on the rise of BEC schemes, and published a recap of 2018’s Operation WireWire, which was an international effort to disrupt international BEC scams. An FBI public service announcement that warns of the dangers of BEC schemes encourages businesses to “trust but verify.”
Below is a full list of Nigerians who were named in the scam list.
1. VALENTINE IRO, aka “Iro Enterprises,” aka “Valentine Obinna Iro ,” aka ” Obinna Iro ,” 16 aka ” Obinna Nassa,”
2. CHUKWUDI CHRI STOGUNUS IGBOKWE, aka ” Christogunus C. Igbokwe,” aka ” Chris Kudon ,” aka “Atete ,” aka “Still Kudon ,”
3. JERRY ELO IKOGHO , aka “J Man,”
4. IZUCHUKWU KINGSLEY UMEJESI, aka ” Kingsley Umejesi, ” aka “Armeni an Man,” aka “Kingsley LA,” aka “I zuking Aka Aku ,”
5. ADEGOKE MOSES OGUNGBE , aka “P & P Motors,” aka “Pp, ”
6. ALBERT LEWIS CATHEY, aka “Alb, ” aka “Abert Jag,” aka “Al,”
7. TITYAYE MARINA MANSBANGURA, aka “Tityaye Igbokwe ,” aka “Marina Mansour,” aka “Marina Mansaray,” aka “Marina Tityaye Mans Bangura,”
8. CHUKWUDI COLLINS AJAEZE, aka “Thank You Jesus”
9. EKENE AUGUSTINE EKECHUKWU, aka “Ogedi Power,” aka “Power,”
10. CHUKS EROHA, aka “Chuks Nassa Iro,” aka “Nassa,” aka “Prince Chuddy,” aka “Nurse Chuddy,”
11. COLLINS NNAEMEKA OJIMBA, aka “Collins Emeka Ojimba,” aka “Ojimba Collins,” aka “Charly.Africa,”
12. FNU LNU, aka “Xplora G,”
13. UCHENNA OCHIAGHA, aka “Urch Agu,” aka “Advanced Mega Plus Ltd,”
14. NNAMDI THEOJOSEPH DURU, aka “Duru Theo Joseph Nnamdi,” aka “Williams High School,” aka “Ifytyns,”
15. ERICSON UCHE OFORKA, aka “Oforka,” aka “Eric Oforka,”
16. MARK IFEANYI CHUKWUOCHA, aka “Mark Iheanyi Chukwuocha,” aka “Chukwu Mark,” aka “Markife,”
17. AUGUSTINE NNAMDI, aka “Nnamdi Augustine,” aka “Jazz,”
18. CHIEMEZIE CHRISTOPHER CHILAKA, aka “Fanta,”
19. CHARLES OHAJIMKPO, aka “Giggs,” aka “Ryan Giggs,” aka “Charles,”
20. STANLEY UGOCHUKWU UCHE, aka “Ugo Law,” aka “Uche Stanley,” aka “He is risen.Happy Easter!,”
21. CHIKA AUGUSTINE ODIONYENMA, aka “Tony Augustin Odionyenma,” aka “Chika Tony,” aka “CTA Finance Source Intl,”
22. PASCHAL CHIMA OGBONNA, aka “Chima,” aka “Paschal,”
23. SAMUEL NNAMDI ONWUASOANYA, aka “Sammy Lee Nnamdi,” aka “Onwuasoanya Samuel Nnamdi,” aka “Enugu Ogo,”
24. MACWILLIAM CHINONSO CHUKWUOCHA, aka “ChiBoy,”
25. EMMANUEL ONYEKA UZOKA, aka “Emmanuel Mansion,” aka “Mansion,” aka “Son of God,” aka “Ezirim Uzoma,”
26. JOSHUA ANIEFIOK AWAK, aka “Joe Awk,” aka “Kwee Tin Law,”
27. GEORGE UGOCHUKWU EGWUMBA, aka “George Ugo,” aka “Ugo Aunty Scholar,”
28. UCHECHUKWU SOLOMON EZIRIM, aka “Uche Nwanne,” aka “Uche Ezirim,”
29. AUGUSTINE IFEANYI OKAFOR, aka “Zero,” aka “St.Austine,” aka “Austine,” aka “Ifeanyichukwu Okafor,”
30. FNU LNU, aka “Okay Sam Mal,” LESLIE N. MBA, aka “Mystical,” aka “Nwachinemere Leslie,”
31. OGOCHUKWU INNOCENT IKEWESI, aka “Ogoo UK,” aka “Innocent Ikewesi,”
32. EMMANUEL UZOMA OGANDU, aka “Nwachinaemere,” aka “Uzoma,”
33. AMARACHUKWU HARLEY ANYANWU, aka “GodisGod,” aka “War B,”
34. BRIGHT IFEANYI AZUBUIKE, aka “Bright Bauer Azubuike,” aka “Ifeanyi Jnr,”
35. EMEKA MOSES NWACHUKWU, aka “All Man,” aka “Omalitoto,” FNU LNU, aka “Donatus Izunwanne,” aka “Izunwanne Donatus Chibuikem,” aka “Deworlddonmax,”
36. CHINWENDU KENNETH OSUJI, aka “Father,”
37. EUSEBIUS UGOCHUKWU ONYEKA, aka “Ugo UK,” aka “sly19 sly,”
38. CHIDI ANUNOBI, aka “Anunobi Chidi,” aka “Chidioo,”
39. ANTHONY NWABUNWANNE OKOLO, aka “Eric West,” aka “Erci West,” aka “Code,”
40. OBINNA CHRISTIAN ONUWA, aka “Papa Chukwuezugo,” aka “Obinna Onuwa Abala,” aka “Obyno Abala,”
41. CHIJIOKE CHUKWUMA ISAMADE, aka “Mr CJ,” aka “CJ,”
42. LINUS NNAMDI MADUFOR, aka “Madufor Nnamdi,”
43. CHRYSAUGONUS NNEBEDUM, aka “Cris,”
44. UGOCHUKWU OKEREKE, aka “Blade,” aka “Kingsly Cris,” aka “Okereke Ugochukwu,”
45. FIDEL LEON ODIMARA, aka “Fiedel Odimara,” aka “Ndaa,” aka “Dee Dutchman,”
46. KINGSLEY CHINEDU ONUDOROGU, aka “OBJ,”
47. DESSI NZENWAH, aka “Desmond Sage,” aka “Des Nzenwa,” aka “Saga Lounge,”
48. CHIMAROKE OBASI, aka “Chima Russia”
49. JAMES CHIGOZIE AGUBE, aka “Smart,” aka “Smart Agube,” aka “Smart Chigozie Agube”
50. CHIMAOBI UZOZIE OKORIE, aka “Omaobi,” aka “Mobility,”
51. OGOCHUKWU OHIRI, aka “Ogomegbulam Ohiri,” aka “Ologbo,”
52. KENNEDY CHIBUEZE UGWU, aka “Kennedy David,”
53. IFEANYICHUKWU OLUWADAMILARE AGWUEGBO, aka “B$$ IFF¥,”
54. VICTOR IFEANYI CHUKWU, aka “Ifeannyi Soccer,” aka “Vic Chux,”
55. CHIDI EMMANUEL MEGWA, aka “Cantr,” aka “Canta Jr.,”
56. PRINCEWILL ARINZE DURU, aka “Arnzi Prince Will,” aka “Arinze,”
57. DESMOND IWU, aka “Desmond Chigozie Iwu,” aka “Lalaw,” aka “Odo Desmond,”
58. ONYEKA VINCENT CHIKA, aka “Chyco,” aka “Chika Ejima,” aka “Vincent Chika Onyeka,”
59. IFEANYI KINGSLEY MEZIENWA, aka “Ifeanyi Ali,” aka “Ifeanyichukwu Mezienwa,”
60. VICTOR UCHENNA AGUH, aka “Orch Sod,” aka “Uche SP,” aka “Rich Homie Urch,”
61. KEVIN AMARACHI ESHIMBU, aka “Humble,” aka “Humble Amarachukwu,” aka “Dato Humble,”
62. VITALIS KELECHI ANOZIE, aka “Kelechi Vitalis Anozie,” aka “Kelechi Anozieh,” aka “Pastor Kel Anozie,” aka “Pastor Kc,” aka “Choice,”
63. WILLIAMS OBIORA AGUNWA, aka “Don Williams,”
64. GEORGE CHIMEZIE DIKE, aka “Chimekros,” aka “Slim Dad…No…1,”
65. MUNACHISO KYRIAN UKACHUKWU, aka “Muna,”
66. NWANNEBUIKE OSMUND, aka “Osmund Nwannebuike,” aka “Olivite,” aka “Nikky Bro.,”
67. CHIDIEBERE FRANKLIN NWANGWU, aka “Frank Chidi,” aka “Franklin Nwangwu,” aka “Agogo,”
68. DAMIAN UCHECHUKWU AJAH, aka “Uche Ajah,” aka “Ajah Damian Uchechukwu,” aka “Uchechukwu Demian Ajah,”
69. EMEKA P. EJIOFOR, aka “Ejiofor Emeka,”
70. LAWRENCE CHUKWUMA UBASINEKE, aka “Ubasineke Chuks,” aka “Chukwuma Ubasineke,”
71. CHINEDU BRIGHT IBETO, aka “Doggy,” aka “Doggy Lucino,”
72. VALENTINE AMARACHI NWANEGWO, aka “Satis,” aka “Satis Amarachi Satis,”
73. EMMANUEL CHIDIEBERE DIKE, aka “Emmanet,”
74. JEREMIAH UTIEYIN EKI, aka “Uti,” CHINAKA DAVIDSON IWUOHA, aka “Tmrw Afrika Will Wake Up,” aka “Cookie,” aka “All Africa Media Network,”
75. CHIMA DARLINGTON DURU, aka “Kajad,” aka “Kajad Jesus,”
76. IKENNA CHRISTIAN IHEJIUREME, aka “Piper,” aka “Am Happy!,”
77. OBI ONYEDIKA MADEKWE, aka “Odu Investment,”
COZA Pastor, Fatoyinbo asks court to dismiss Dakolo’s suit, demands N50m
Senior pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo, has asked the FCT High Court to dismiss the suit filed by Photographer, Mrs Busola Dakola.
Contained in an application filed through his lawyers, Pastor Fatoyinbo also demanded that he is awarded a sum of N50 million as damages.
According to the application, he called for the dismissal of the suit on the grounds that it is incompetent and frivolous.
Aregbesola charges governors to use modern technology in tackling insecurity
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on Wednesday charged state governors especially the North East and North Western Zones of the country, to emulate the Kaduna State Government’s model of tackling insecurity through the deployment of modern technology.
The minister emphasized that the use of modern technology will help the Federal Government’s efforts and security personnel in combating all forms of crime and criminality in the zones.
Aregbesola made the call in his office in Abuja, when he received in audience the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufa’i who paid him a courtesy visit
According to the former Osun state governor , crime has become complex the world over and that can best be tackled through the deployment of modern technology to assist the security personnel deployed to ensure the security of lives and property in the country.
“Through the use of modern technology, the menace of banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other vices bedeviling the country will be put behind within the shortest possible time”, he assured.
Speaking further, he noted that this will influence the development of an effective strategy on a regional basis for curtailing the menace of insecurity and its attendant challenges facing the nation, especially in the North-Western Zone.
Aregbesola who said that security is the key to effective, meaningful and social interaction, stressed that the economy of any nation depends on its internal security.
While commending the Governor for seeking collaboration with the Federal Government in the fight against insecurity, the Minister stressed that the state of insecurity facing the country in recent times was a national challenge that demands a collective effort to stem, and therefore urged the Governors to continue to collaborate with the Federal Government in its efforts to provide safety and security to Nigerians.
Ogbeni Aregbesola lauded Governor El-Rufai for his support to the State Commands of the Security Agencies under the Ministry in Kaduna State through the provision of conducive atmosphere to enable them to contribute effectively towards the protection of lives and property in the state.
He reiterated that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is committed to the provision of security to Nigerians in order to encourage economic development and revitalization of the economy as well as entrench transparency in the system so as to move the country to the next level.
Earlier in his remarks, the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai informed that he was in the Ministry to first, congratulate the Minister on his recent appointment and to seek for collaboration on how best to tackle the spate of insecurity in the state.
The governor said that the Federal Government has done creditably well towards restoring security along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway through the deployment of security personnel from all relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies that are in charge of ensuring security in the country.
El-Rufai expressed the State Government’s desire to continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Interior and other security agencies in the fight against insecurity, noting that, Kaduna State Government is willing to give its necessary assistance that will support the security agencies in combating crime and criminality in the state and its environs.
The Governor who stated that the state was now safe, compared to the situation in a few months back, commended the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for its dogged determination to fight against crime, describing it as one of the best security agencies in the country.
Lagos: Woman arrested for stabbing husband to death over daughter’s birthday party
Homicide detectives from Surulere Division in Lagos State have arrested Stella Peter, for allegedly stabbing her husband, Bala Haruna to death following an argument over their daughter’s one-year birthday.
An argument, as gathered ensued between them which turned violent and the woman used a kitchen knife to stab the man in the back which led to his death.
The woman, Stella who confessed to the crime, accused the man of refusing to release money for their daughter’s birthday party.
The Police Spokesperson, Bala Elkana confirmed this in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the couple were not actually married but lived together at 2 Tejuosho Avenue, Surulere Lagos, for three years and have a baby who just turned one.
Homicide detectives from the State Criminal Investigation Department Yaba have taken over and commenced an investigation into the case and the suspect will be charged to court for murder.
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