The United States has announced the arrest and prosecution of 80 alleged fraudsters, many of them Nigerians, in what it called a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through various schemes.
The announcement was made by Nick Hanna, the US attorney, who alleged that the suspects connived with state and federal agencies to carry out their acts.
“A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerian nationals, with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network,” the department of justice of the Central District of California said in a statement on its website.
The statement sighted by Legit.ng said the indictment was made after law enforcement agencies arrested 14 suspects across the US in the morning of Thursday, August 22.
It added that 11 of the arrests were carried out in Los Angeles.
“Two defendants were already in federal custody on other charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria,” the statement noted.
The US alleged that the 80 suspects as well as others used various online strategies like Business Email Compromise (BEC) frauds, love scams, and activities that target the aged.
“According to a criminal complaint also unsealed today, co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other countries contacted the lead defendants in the indictment - Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens - for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims.
“Once members of the conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network, according to the 145-page indictment,” the US said.
It was learnt that Iro and Igbokwe were involved in illegal activities that led to the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million with an overall conspiracy involving an attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.
Hanna said the arrest of the suspects was a major step to disrupt the criminal.
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Iro and Igbokwe, it was alleged, “collected bank accounts, fielded requests for bank account information, provided that information to co-conspirators around the world, and laundered the money obtained from victims - all of this in exchange for a cut of the money stolen from victims of the various fraud schemes.”
Also indicted is Jerry Ikogho, 50, of Carson and Adegoke Moses Ogungbe, 34, of Fontana, Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi, 30, of Los Angeles, Tityaye Marina Mansbangura, 33, of Palmdale, and Obi Madekwe, 31, of Nigeria.
The authorities said each of the 80 suspects is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft.
Legit.ng earlier reported that Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and minister of justice, vowed to prosecute past leaders and anyone who connived to sabotage the country’s economy.
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