Nigerian fraudster Woodberry set for sentencing July 11 after plea deal

A UNITED States (US) District Court in Illinois has set July 11 for the sentencing of a Nigerian international fraudster Olalekan Jacob Ponle, better known as Woodberry, after the suspect pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud and agreed to forfeit $8 million illegally acquired through crime.

The flamboyant internet fraudster is an ally of another popular Nigerian Ramon Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, who was convicted of similar charges and handed an 11-year sentence last year.

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Woodberry initially pleaded not guilty to the eight-count fraud charge brought against him for engaging in a scheme known as business email compromise (BEC), which violates Section 1343 of the United States Criminal Codes.

However, a plea declaration submitted at the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division on April 6, revealed the suspect had rescinded his plea and had entered into an agreement with the US authorities to repay the $8 million he fraudulently received from the seven companies that fell for his scam.

The document containing Woodberry’s signed plea declaration read in part: “Defendant understands that by pleading guilty, he will subject to forfeiture to the United States all right, title, and interest that he has in any property constituting or derived from proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offence.”

He has also waived his rights to some designer watches, jewelry and luxury cars, including a Rolls Royce Cullinan with vehicle number J9153, Lamborghini Urus (N4973) and Mercedes-Benz G-class (G68816) he had stashed in Dubai.

Last year, he had forfeited 151.8 Bitcoin, roughly $6 million, to the US government determined to recover all stolen monies from the Nigerian fraudster.



    Woodberry and Hushpuppi were arrested for extensive international online scams in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on 10 June 2020, and extradited to the US on July 2, 2020, to face separate trials.

    However, on July 22, 2020, a court order issued by Judge Robert W. Gettleman, dismissed the charges against Woodberry without prejudice.

    When a case is dismissed with prejudice, it is over and done with, once and for all, and cannot be brought back to court, but when it is dismissed without prejudice, the dismissal is only temporary as the prosecutor can refile the case within a certain period of time.

    Consequently, the charges against the suspect were refiled and in a forfeiture filing dated April 29, 2022, US prosecutors sought the confiscation of any property derived from the proceeds of Woodberry’s criminal enterprise.

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