Two Nigerians charged in U.S. over cryptocurrency fraud

FILE - This Jan. 27, 2016 file photo shows, Billy Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, speaks at the Harney County Community Center in Burns, Ore. Williams is holding a marijuana summit to address what he calls a "massive" marijuana surplus in the state. He announced the Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 summit, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a memo outlining how states with legalized marijuana could avoid federal scrutiny. (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian via AP, File)
FILE - This Jan. 27, 2016 file photo shows, Billy Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, speaks at the Harney County Community Center in Burns, Ore. Williams is holding a marijuana summit to address what he calls a "massive" marijuana surplus in the state. He announced the Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 summit, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a memo outlining how states with legalized marijuana could avoid federal scrutiny. (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian via AP, File)

The attorney for the United States District of Oregon, Billy Williams, has announced that two Nigerian nationals, Kelvin Usifoh, 24, and Onwuemerie Gift of unidentified age, are facing criminal charges for allegedly defrauding people in an online scheme, bitcoin.

A statement published on the website of the U.S Attorney’s office for the district of Oregon, on Wednesday, said the duo are facing a 13-count charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

The attorney’s office also said between December 2017 and June 2018, the duo had defrauded three victims, one residing in Oregon and two in California, of 10.88 bitcoins worth approximately $59,000 (N21,269,500.00).

According to the Attorney’s office, the pair launched three fraudulent webpages namely; wealthcurrency.com, boomcurrency.com, and merrycurrency.com to scam the victims.

They promised investors 20-50 per cent returns on investments of bitcoin with zero risk and instant withdrawals.

”In an indictment filed on April 18, 2019, Onwuemerie Ogor Gift, 24, and Kelvin Usifoh, age unknown, were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and 11 counts of wire fraud.

”They actively encouraged victims to transfer bitcoin to private virtual currency wallets and made numerous false claims including that their bitcoins would be invested using “unique trading methods” and they would maintain a “constant high-interest rate.”

The statement also explained that after the pair had received the Bitcoin from their victims, they, however, transferred the bitcoins to other accounts for an exchange to Nigerian Naira.

”Beginning in December 2017 and continuing until at June 2018, Gift and Usifoh are alleged to have knowingly conspired to defraud three victims, one residing in Oregon and two in California.

”After receiving bitcoin transfers from their victims, Gift and Usifoh would transfer the bitcoin to other accounts and eventually exchange it for Nigerian Naira.

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”The indictment alleges that in just over six months, the defendants stole 10.88 bitcoins worth approximately $59,000 from the three victims. In total, the government alleges Gift and Usifoh received more than 50 bitcoins as part of the scheme,” the statement reads.

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy had issued an Investor Alert warning investors about investment scams involving websites and trading businesses related to digital asset.

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