Parents of 11 Yoruba children may not set their eyes on their children for the next 30 years should United States (US) courts found them guilty on allegations of love scam, bank fraud, money laundering, Electronic mail compromises, and taking advantage of over 50 vulnerable aged men and women in US who were been scammed $9 million.
The suspects were said to have used different tricks such as romance scams, primarily sent through electronic messages via email, text messaging, social media, and online dating websites, to deceive victims who believed they were in romantic relationships.
Part of the US government’s allegations against the 11 suspects from South-West states of Nigeria was that they used fake identities, and false pretenses to lure their victims to transfer funds to bank accounts controlled by the suspects and their co-conspirators.
Another strategy used by the suspects was to send business emails, already compromised, to tricking businesses into transferring funds into bank accounts the victims believed were under the control of legitimate financial firm recipients, when in fact the bank accounts were under the control of the defendants and co-conspirators.
The suspects identified by the United States Department of Justice were 32-year-old Adedayo John, 26-year-old Oluwadamilola Akinpelu, 29-year-old Kazeem Raheem, 39 years old Morakinyo Gbeyide, 26-year-old Warris Adenuga a.k.a. Blue.
Others on the list include 28 years old Smart Agunbiade, 41-year-old Olawale Olaniyan, 34-year-old Olawoyin Peter Olanrewaju, and 30 years old Emmanuel Oronsaye-Ajayi, 27 years old Lateef Goloba, and 29 years old Samsondeen Goloba.
The indictment document, containing names of the suspects, was unsealed yesterday by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, and Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service, Patrick Freaney.
According to the document, nine of the suspects were arrested hours before the court sitting in the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York and presented before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in the Southern District of New York.
One suspect, however, was arrested in the Southern District of Texas and presented in that district’s federal court while one suspect remains at large.
Morakinyo Gbeyide, one of the suspects, was meanwhile charged with one count charge of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years imprisonment.
The document released by the US justice department revealed that the maximum potential penalties were prescribed by Congress and that they were provided for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by a judge.
Speaking on the case brought before the court, U.S. Attorney, Williams said: “As alleged, the defendants were part of a criminal enterprise that not only defrauded businesses by assuming the online identities of legitimate counterparties but also preyed on vulnerable elderly people, deceiving victims into sending money in phony romance scams. Thanks to the Secret Service, the defendants are now facing federal felony charges”.
Williams, meanwhile, praised the outstanding investigative work of the Secret Service on the case been handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit and assigned to United States Assistant Attorneys, Kaylan Lasky, and Matthew Weinberg, for prosecution.
The special agent, Freaney, said: “As the continued threat posed by cyber-enabled fraud remains ever-present, the U.S. Secret Service remains steadfast in its pursuit of those who threaten our collective financial security.
“This case is no exception, as the defendants allegedly utilized a myriad of fraud schemes, including romance scams and business email compromises, to defraud over 50 victims in excess of $9 million.
“Due to the efforts of the Secret Service and our partners at the New York City Police Department Financial Crimes Task Force, this organized group will no longer be able to operate its alleged scheme to defraud and will answer the charges brought against them in the Southern District of New York.”