Three Nigerians Facing Federal Charges Over $6 Million Fraud Scheme In US
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Three Nigerians Facing Federal Charges Over $6 Million Fraud Scheme In US

Three Nigerians are facing federal charges in the United States for wire fraud and money laundering related to a business email compromise (“BEC”) scheme to the tune of over $6 million.

The defendants are 29-year-old Kosi Goodness Simon, 28-year-old James Junior Aliyu, and 31-year-old Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, all residents of South Africa.

A statement released by the US Department of Justice disclosed that the indictment was returned on June 24, 2019, and unsealed on July 6, 2022, upon the defendants’ arrests outside the United States.

According to the seven-count indictment, from February 2016 until at least July 2017, the defendants conspired with others to perpetrate a BEC scheme.

“Specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators, including co-conspirators residing in Maryland, gained unauthorized access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses targeted by the conspirators. The co-conspirators then allegedly sent false wiring instructions to the victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses, to deceive the victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by perpetrators of the scheme, called “drop accounts.”

“The indictment also alleges that the defendants conspired to commit money laundering by disbursing the fraudulently obtained funds in the drop accounts to other accounts by initiating account transfers, withdrawing cash, obtaining cashier’s checks and by writing checks to other individuals and entities, to hide the true ownership and the source of those assets. For example, defendant Aliyu is alleged to have made a $350,000 wire transfer from one of the drop accounts in Maryland to an account he controlled in South Africa, knowing that the funds were the proceeds of a crime and that the transaction was designed to conceal the nature, source and ownership of those funds. Finally, the defendants are charged with wire fraud, related to the BEC scheme. Specifically, Simon-Ebo is charged in three wire fraud counts involving $6,343,533.10 in victim funds being wired to accounts controlled by conspirators”

The first of three defendants, Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, has been extradited from Canada to the United States and would appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Amjel Queresh of the District Court in Greenbelt on Friday.

If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy, for the money laundering conspiracy, and for each count of wire fraud.

If convicted, Aliyu also faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for money laundering.

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