4 Nigerians, 11 others charged in New York with $18m fraud

At least four Nigerians were among the 15 defendants charged In Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday for $18 Million fraud.

The Nigerians are Oladayo Oladokun, Farouk Kukoyi, Baldwin Osuji and Henry Ogbuokiri.

Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York, Philip R. Bartlett, the Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Patrick Freaney, the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, announced the unsealing today of a criminal complaint charging the 15 defendants.

They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

Four defendants were arrested on Tuesday in the District of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and the Eastern District of Virginia, and were to be presented in those districts’ federal courts.

One defendant is in state custody and will be presented at a later date. Ten defendants remain at large.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, these defendants conspired to steal millions of dollars by stealing identities, opening fictitious bank accounts, and depositing stolen checks – or conning victims to wire funds – into those accounts. All told, as alleged, the scheme netted more than $18 million and victimized numerous individuals and businesses. Thanks to the combined efforts of our law enforcement partners, the game is up.”

As alleged in the criminal Complaint:

Oladayo Oladokun, Farouk Kukoyi, Baldwin Osuji and Henry Ogbuokiri, along with JOSHUA HICKS, ANTHONY LEE NELSON, DERRICK BANKS, IBRAHIIMA DOUKOURE, JAMAR SKEETE, PAUL YAW OSEI JR., KOWAN POOLE, DARREL WILLIAMS, DARYL BARTLEY, GARNET STEVEN MURRAY-SESAY, a/k/a “Steven Garnet Murray-Sesay,” and ANDREW HEAVEN participated in an $18 million fraud scheme consisting of three key phases.

First, members of the conspiracy opened more than 60 business bank accounts using the real personal identifying information, including names and social security numbers, of identity theft victims. Second, members of the conspiracy deposited money into these bank accounts that they obtained by defrauding victims. Third, members of the conspiracy accessed the fraud proceeds by transferring the proceeds into other bank accounts or by withdrawing cash.

Members of the conspiracy typically defrauded their victims in one of two ways. In some instances, members of the conspiracy deposited stolen or forged checks. For example, members of the conspiracy obtained three checks that had been mailed by a national sports league from New York, New York, and deposited those stolen checks into bank accounts that were opened in the names of the intended recipients. In other instances, members of the conspiracy deceived victims into making electronic transfers. For example, a member of the conspiracy posing as a victim’s financial adviser caused the victim to wire money from a bank branch in New York, New York, to a bank account controlled by members of the conspiracy.

To date, law enforcement has identified more than 100 fraudulent transactions in furtherance of the scheme, totaling more than $18 million.

All defendants – Oladokun, 46, Kukoyi, 33, Osuji, 31, Ogbuokiri, 32, HICKS, 24, NELSON, 28, BANKS, 27, DOUKOURE, 61, SKEETE, 36, OSEI, 32, POOLE, 29, WILLIAMS, 62, BARTLEY, 58, MURRAY-SESAY, 35, and HEAVEN, 49 – are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Seven defendants – OGBUOKIRI, HICKS, BANKS, POOLE, WILLIAMS, BARTLEY, and MURRAY-SESAY – are also charged with aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.