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US court jails Nigerian 7 years over money laundering charges, slams $915,815 fine

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A federal judge in Texas, United States, has sentenced a Nigerian, Akhabue Ehis Onoimoimilin, 29, to seven years and three months imprisonment for his participation in a money-laundering conspiracy that swindled victims of over $2.2 million using Business Email Compromise (BEC) and romance scams.

Onoimoimilin, aka “David Harrison,” had on February 2, pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and also admitted that in June 2015, he used a fraudulent foreign passport in the name of David Harrison to open bank accounts in Austin and Houston.

The accused used the accounts to receive, launder and distribute wire transfers to co-conspirators illegally receiving proceeds of BEC and romance schemes.

In a statement on its website, the US Department of Justice said, “For his efforts, Onoimoimilin collected between 10% and 15% of more than $420,000 in fraudulently obtained funds.

“In romance scams, conspirators often located outside the U.S. review established online dating sites, targeting victims who appear lonely based upon their profiles.

“The fraudsters create fake profiles and exploit the emotional vulnerabilities of the victims. Sometimes the scammers use computer intrusion techniques to alter legitimate payment request emails, changing the recipient bank accounts.

READ ALSO: Appeal Court upholds ex-Gombe commissioner’s conviction for money laundering

“Sometimes they send spoofed emails from email addresses similar to the real email accounts used by trusted partners.”

Meanwhile, in addition to Onoimoimilin’s prison term, U.S. District Judge, Robert Pitman, ordered that Onoimoimilin pay $865,210.78 in restitution to his victims and be placed on supervised release for two years after his prison term.

Also, Judge Pitman ordered a money judgment against the defendant to the tune of $50,605 for the proceeds he received from the scheme.

Speaking on the development, U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff, said, “These morally reprehensible schemes deprive people of their hard-earned money and even their entire life savings and retirement funds, leaving humiliation and financial ruin behind.

“Our office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who conspire to prey on vulnerable victims in this manner.”

Also, in his remarks after the judgement, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Homeland Security Investigation, San Antonio Division, Tim Tubbs, said, “The types of fraud committed by Mr. Onoimoimilin not only have lasting ramifications for the affected victims but also threaten the integrity of our country’s financial systems.

“While today’s sentence is a decisive victory for the victims, the overall fight against fraud continues. HSI will do everything in its power to bring other cybercriminals to justice and recover ill-gotten gains for those victimized.”

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