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Two US-based Nigerian businessmen bag 22yrs combine jail term over fraud

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Two United States-based Nigerian businessmen have been sentenced to over 22 years combined jailed terms for engaging in fraud and money laundering activities in the country.

The two businessmen, 46-year-old Opeyemi Adeoso, and 47-year-old Benjamin Ifebajo, were handed their jail terms after pleading guilty to the accusation made against them by the law enforcement officers attached to the DOJ’s Operation reWired.

While Chief U.S. District Judge, Barbara Lynn, handed Adeoso 151 months (12 years and six months) in federal prison and ordered him to pay $9.3 million in restitution, Adeleke, who was his major coconspirator, bagged 120 months (10 years) prison term and ordered to pay $2.1 million in restitution.

Before the judgements, a third co-conspirator, Aminat Folorunsho, a 35-year-old, had been sentenced to 37 months (three years and one month) for engaging in money laundering, use of a false passport, and conspiracy. Also, the court ordered that she pay roughly $221,000 in restitution.

The jail terms of the businessmen, as delivered by the court, were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney, Chad Meacham, yesterday through a statement made available to newsmen.

Adeoso, before the judgement, 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.

Before then, his coconspirator, Ifebajo had pleaded guilty 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.

“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 visas.

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.

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.

Folorunsho, on her part, 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 accordingly.

The lady was said to have used different pseudo names including 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. Diplomatic Security Service, and Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers prosecuted the case.

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