[SIZE=7]Nigerian Email Scammers Sentenced to Combined 22+ Years in Federal Prison[/SIZE]
November 22, 2021
Two Nigerian fraudsters arrested in DOJ’s Operation reWired have been sentenced to a combined 22 ½ years in federal prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham.
Opeyemi Abidemi Adeoso, 46, pleaded guilty in June of 2020 to 17 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of money laundering, six counts of use of a false passport, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced Thursday by Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn to 151 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $9.3 million in restitution.
His coconspirator, Benjamin Adeleke Ifebajo, 47, pleaded guilty in March 2020 to seven counts of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering, four counts of use of a false passport, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced in June to 120 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.1 million in restitution.
“These defendants utilized multiple tactics to deceive unsuspecting businesses out of their money. By assuming fictitious identities they defrauded dozens, which risks business health and in turn, erodes overall economic health,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “Along with our federal law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold fraudsters accountable for their crimes and the harm they cause.”
Agents initiated an investigation into the pair in August 2018, after receiving a report of a business email compromise scheme from a victim who had transferred more than $504,000 into a bank account registered to a “Daniel Sammy Campbell.” Using the address associated with the account, they traced it back to Mr. Adeoso. Agents then reviewed bank surveillance footage and traced funds to identify Mr. Adeoso and Mr. Ifebajo, Nigerian nationals in the U.S. on non-immigrant vias.
According to court documents, the defendants admitted they used fraudulent passports to open individual bank accounts under assumed names. Other members of the conspiracy then sent phishing emails – which spoofed the email addresses of victims’ employers, supervisors, and other known business contacts – to numerous individuals prompting them to initiate wire transfers from their personal bank accounts or from their employer’s bank accounts.
Once the money hit the defendants’ accounts, they withdrew the money, often tens of thousands of dollars at a time, in cash, via cashiers’ checks, or through electronic transfer, then deposited the funds into other alias accounts. Occasionally, they made purchases with the money.
Mr. Adeoso is believed to have used aliases including, but not limited to: Peter Kuffor, George Macharty, Nelson Johnson, Braheem Larke, Michael Albert, Michael Jaden Sean, Michael Jeff Brown, and Benjamin Zee Brown. Mr. Ifebajo is believed to have used aliases including, but not limited to: Joseph Eric Johnson, Jeremiah Alex Malcom, Tidwell Anthony Wilson, and Andrew James Williams.
A third co-conspirator, Temitope Aminat Folorunsho, 35, pleaded guilty in July 2020 to multiple counts of wire fraud, money laundering, use of false passport, and conspiracy and was sentenced in July 2021 to 37 months in federal prison and ordered to pay roughly $221,000 in restitution. Ms. Folorunsho used the aliases Terri L. Brown, Michelle Angel Cole, Robyn L. Granell, and Deborah Kiki Philip.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), and Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers prosecuted the case.
A Liberian national who orchestrated a fraudulent scheme to secure more than $23 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans pleaded guilty today to a federal financial crime, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Steven Jalloul, a 43-year-old tax consultant from the Dallas area, was first charged via criminal complaint in September 2020 and indicted later that month. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a superseding information charging him with one count of engaging in monetary transactions using property derived from unlawful activity.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help hardworking businesspeople keep their companies afloat during the pandemic – not to line the pockets of unscrupulous accountants,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham. “The Justice Department will prosecute anyone who attempts to exploit pandemic-era financial programs. There are countless businesses ravaged by COVID-19 that deserved this money; Mr. Jalloul did not.”
According to plea papers, Mr. Jalloul admitted he defrauded lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program — a measure authorized by Congress in the early days of the pandemic to award forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 — while awaiting sentencing in a separate tax fraud case.
In court documents, he admitted that he submitted roughly 170 falsified PPP loan applications to lenders (including through a fintech company) seeking more than $23 million on behalf of over 160 clients of his tax preparation business, Royalty Tax & Financial Services LLC.
Mr. Jalloul admitted he inflated clients’ employee rosters and monthly payroll expenses in order to increase the amount of PPP funds for which their businesses would be eligible. He generally charged clients a 2 to 20 percent commission on the PPP loans they received and even listed his ex-wife as Royalty Tax’s authorized representative, without her consent, when seeking an inflated PPP loan for his own business.
In total, 97 false PPP loan applications were ultimately approved, and Mr. Jalloul’s clients were awarded more than $12 million in PPP money. Those clients paid him at least $972,114 in fees.
Mr. Jalloul now faces up to 10 years in federal prison for the PPP fraud. His sentencing date has not yet been set.
He is already behind bars at FCI-Seagoville, having pleaded guilty to tax fraud in a separate case in January 2020; in that case, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison.
The Dallas Field Offices of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fabio Leonardi and Marty Basu are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dimitri Rocha is handling the asset-forfeiture component of the case.
A federal grand jury has indicted 11 defendants in the Northern District of Texas for defrauding elderly victims in romance schemes, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah.
The 11 defendants, all arrested during a large-scale operation Wednesday morning, are charged with a variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The majority of the defendants charged in this investigation have ties to a transnational organized crime syndicate originating in Nigeria, law enforcement revealed Friday.
According to court documents, these defendants allegedly preyed on elderly victims, many of whom were widowed or divorced. They assumed fake names and trolled dating sites like Match.com, ChistianMingle, JSwipe, and PlentyofFish, searching for targets.
Once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they allegedly concocted sob-stories about why they needed money – i.e., taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc. – and then siphoned money from victim’s accounts, tens of thousands of dollars at a time.
“Crimes like these are especially despicable because they rely not only on victims’ lack of internet savvy, but also, their isolation, their loneliness, and sometimes their grief. As the victims open their hearts, the perpetrators open their wallets,” Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said at a press conference announcing the charges. “The only mistake these victims make is being generous to the wrong people.”
“The crimes allegedly committed by these defendants hit close to home. Your neighbors, parents, friends and family would be targets of this organization. The fraudsters intimidated and berated their victims, ruined their lives, really, and then disappeared,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “We’re confident this investigation will have a significant impact on this region and beyond.”
The indictments unsealed today in the Northern District of Texas complement a related indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of Texas, which charges 23 defendants (including one also charged in the Northern District of Texas) with a variety of financial crimes.
Those charged in the Northern District of Texas include:
[li]David Animashaun, 38 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy[/li][li]Oluwalobamise Michael Moses, 40 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy[/li][li]Irabor Fatarr Musa, 51 – arrested in the Eastern District of Texas, charged by the Northern District of Texas wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy[/li][li]Ijeoma Okoro, 31 – arrested in DFW, wire fraud conspiracy fraud, money laundering conspiracy[/li][li]Chukwemeka Orji, 36 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy[/li][li]Emanuel Stanley Orji, 35 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy[/li][li]Frederick Orji, 37 – arrested in Dallas, charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy[/li][li]Uwadiale Esezobor, 36 – arrested in Lubbock, charged with mail & wire fraud conspiracy[/li][li]Victor Idowu, 36 – arrested in Los Angeles, charged with mail & wire fraud conspiracy[/li][li]Afeez Abiola Alao, 37 – wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy[/li][li]Ambrose Sunday Ohide, 47 – wire fraud conspiracy[/li]
Indictments are merely allegations of criminal conduct, not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
If convicted, the defendants face up 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud conspiracy counts and up to 10 years in federal prison on the money laundering conspiracy counts.