9 Individuals Charged For Roles In Fraud Scam Involving 200 Victims

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Three indictments returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Charleston have been unsealed that charge nine men for their involvement in unlawful schemes alleged to have defrauded no less than 200 victims, lots of whom are elderly, of not less than $2.5 million. The 9 defendants are charged with numerous fraud-related crimes, including mail fraud, wire Fraud Check Swizerland, money laundering and receipt of stolen property. As of as we speak, all nine of the defendants have been apprehended in operations executed by the United States Secret Service and other federal, state and native legislation enforcement agencies in seven states.

In response to the indictments, from 2016 to 2020, the defendants allegedly participated in a sequence of romance and other online scams designed to coerce vulnerable victims into sending money to varied bank accounts controlled by them. The indictments describe romance scams as online schemes that focus on people in search of romantic partners, friendship, and different close personal and enterprise relationships on dating web sites and different social media platforms. The defendants created profiles using fictitious names, areas, and images which allowed them to cultivate relationships with the victims. To carry out the schemes alleged in the indictments, victims have been typically led to believe that the defendants were U.S. residents working abroad. However, the investigation revealed that these defendants were truly located in the United States. At the early levels of the romance scams, defendants often requested relatively small gifts, similar to gift playing cards and cell phones from their victims. Because the relationships continued, they requested more and more bigger sums of cash from their victims. The defendants allegedly opened bank accounts and laundered the proceeds of the romance scams by these accounts. The defendants additionally often used cryptocurrency and celebrity meet-and-greet scams to acquire cash from their victims.

“This investigation and subsequent indictments reveal the commitment the United States Attorney’s Workplace and our law enforcement companions have in aggressively pursuing those that engage in online fraud scams and prey on weak members of our communities,” said Acting United States Lawyer Lisa G. Johnston. “Crimes involving romance scams and other on-line scams are rising at an alarming price. This case is a reminder that users of email, texts and social media should remember of such scams and exercise excessive caution.”

“The Secret Service is dedicated to protecting our nation’s monetary institutions and the citizens of West Virginia,” mentioned United States Secret Service Resident Agent in Charge Robert W. Pyle. “While this does not undo the harm that was brought upon each victim, we feel that our investigative efforts be sure that those that dedicated this fraud shall be held accountable. We would also wish to thank the West Virginia State Police, the South Charleston Police Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FDIC-OIG for their cooperation and partnership in this case.”

The next individuals have been charged in the indictments:

– Kenneth Emeni, 29, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Martinsburg, West Virginia;

– John Nassy, 27, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in a suburb of Washington, D.C.;

– Kenneth Ogudu, also called Kenneth Lee, 28, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Columbus, Ohio;

– Oluwagbenga Harrison, 30, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Stone Mountain, Georgia;

– Romello Thorpe, 25, a United States citizen, residing in Washington, D.C.;

– Ouluwabamishe Awolesi, also referred to as Oluwabamise Johnson, 28, a citizen of Nigeria and the United States, residing in Beltsville, Maryland;

– Augustine Amechi, 24, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Huntington, West Virginia;

– Banabas Ganidekam, 24, a citizen of Ghana, residing in Westerville, Ohio; and

– Abdul Osumanu, 26, a citizen of Ghana, residing in Omaha, Nebraska.

The United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance coverage Corporation-Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), the West Virginia State Police, the South Charleston Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia performed the lengthy-time period investigation that spanned approximately two years.

The public is inspired to report potential online fraud activity or scams at https://www.ic3.gov/.

Should you or somebody you understand is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the Nationwide Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Workplace for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide customized help to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and figuring out relevant subsequent steps. Case managers will establish appropriate reporting businesses, present information to callers to help them in reporting, connect callers directly with applicable businesses, and provide assets and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting may help authorities establish those that commit fraud and reporting sure monetary losses due to fraud as soon as attainable can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 10am-6pm Japanese Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages can be found.

The main points contained in the charging paperwork are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and till proven responsible beyond a reasonable doubt in a courtroom of regulation.

A copy of this press release is located on the web site of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court docket documents and knowledge will be discovered on PACER by looking for Case Nos.

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