Security operatives in the United States of America have arrested nine Nigerians for allegedly defrauding individuals and businesses of more than $3.5 million.
This was disclosed in a statement published on the website of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, and Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) Special Agent-in-Charge of the Tampa, Florida, Field Office of U.S., James Spero, on Thursday.
The suspects are Oluwaseun Adelekan, 36; Olalekan Daramola, 35; Solomon Aburekhanlen, 32; Gbenga Oyeneyin, 32; Abiola Olajumoke, 46; Temitope Omotayo, 36; Bryan Eadie, 35; Albert Lucas, 29; and Ademola Adebogun, 38.
According to the statement, the suspects are charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Each defendant faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.
The defendants are accused of participating in a scheme to defraud businesses and individuals through several categories of false and misleading representations.
The US official said some of the suspects were arrested for allegedly posing as oil workers in Russia.
“As alleged, these defendants deployed three different email schemes to defraud their victims. The common denominator in all three schemes was the defendants’ alleged fleecing of their victims through fictitious online identities,” Mr Berman said.
“The schemes allegedly earned the defendants $3.5 million – and also arrests on federal felony charges.”
Mr Spero reportedly said: “A transnational criminal organisation allegedly conducting illicit domestic and international wire fraud has been dismantled thanks to the hard work of HSI Tampa and Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
“This case illustrates the unique investigative authority and international reach of HSI,” he said.
He also spoke on the specifics of the case against the Nigerians.
“Sending email messages that appeared to be, but were not, from legitimate business counterparties that included instructions to the victims to wire payment to those seemingly legitimate business counterparties into bank accounts that were actually under the control of, and/or maintained by, Adelekan, Daramola, Aburekhanlen, Oyeneyin, Olajumoke, Omotayo, Eadie, Lucas, and Adebogun (the “Business Email Compromise Scam”).
“Sending email messages and text messages to at least one victim offering an opportunity to invest in oil stored in Russian oil tank farms conditioned on that victim wiring upfront payments into bank accounts purportedly affiliated with the purported oil investment but actually opened by and under the control of Aburekhanlen, Olajumoke, and Oyeneyin (the “Russian Oil Scam”).
“Sending email messages and text messages to at least one victim from an individual (or individuals) purporting to be a female with romantic intentions toward the victim requesting, further to establishing a romantic relationship, the wiring of payment into a bank account under the control of Omotayo (the “Romance Scam”).”