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Men convicted for Nigeria-Related fraud

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By Timothy Akintola

Fraudsters sentenced to 132 and 81 months imprisonment respectively.

Fraud is not a recent invention. Numerous individuals have indulged in fraudulent activities, in a bid to accrue wealth. A slew of scams varying from small scale to large scale have ravaged the global space. As a result of the volatile risk landscape, curbing fraud has become immensely complex. At the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports indicated an increase in the global cases of fraudulent activities. In a 2020 survey that involved more than 5,000 respondents across the globe, PwC found that 47 percent had at one time or another, fallen victim of fraud.

Recent reports indicate that two California men had been sentenced to at least 11 years in prison for their participation in the international multimillion dollar plan that involved Nigerian nationals. George Ugochukwu Egwumba and Princewell Arinze Duru were sentenced to 132- and 81-months’ imprisonment respectively by the United States District Judge Gary Klausner. Egwumba was convicted of identity fraud in June, while Duru was also convicted of wire fraud, as well as the aid and abetting of an aggravated identity fraud.

Middlemen engaged in this scheme received monumental amount.

Those involved in this fraud scheme, which included Duru and Egwumba were reported by the United States Attorney’s office to have orchestrated malware, business email, elderly fraud and romance scams. The prosecutors revealed that members of this scheme in Nigeria who were connected with the participants in the United States via middlemen also abetted these actions by receiving and laundering the funds through U.S bank accounts, as well as money transmitting services like Western Union, MoneyGram or Cryptocurrency.

These middlemen were also said to have received a certain percentage of the fraud-acquired funds. Though the percentage was undisclosed, reports indicated that these middlemen were deeply engaged in this scheme and as such, received a monumental amount. Egwumba, one of the convicted fellows also acted as a middleman throughout the fraudulent process. He was reported to have indulged in securing and sharing bank account information with the use of malware and other cybercrime techniques.

Fake accounts used to receive proceeds from fraudulent transactions.

Duru was also reported to have aided and abetted all the fraudsters in receiving and laundering of these fraudulently acquired funds. These funds were acquired by the opening of numerous counterfeited business accounts, transferring of these stolen funds and also using cryptocurrency wallets. Activities like this are not farfetched, as numerous individuals have been reported to have indulged in fraudulent actions like this over the years. The United States especially has been a major focus of these fraudsters.

It was noted to have registered a shell firm in the county of Sacramento and afterward, used the company in opening numerous business bank accounts at two different banks. These created accounts where then used to receive the proceeds of the fraudulent transactions from numerous victims and businesses. One of the victims of this fraudulent scheme was an individual who was deceived to deposit an approximate amount of $25,600 into one of these created bank accounts.

Indictment led to the charge of 80 defendants.

This scheme, according to the prosecutors, was further reported to have resulted in the laundering of $6 million, as well as an attempted theft of an additional $40 million. This indictment led to the charge of 80 different defendants, with 19 of them outrightly pleading guilty. However, some of these fraudsters who were involved in this scheme in Nigeria were already arrested and ready to be arraigned in court and other individuals involved in this case are believed to still be at large.

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