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US govt arraigns 11 Nigerians over alleged $6 million fraud

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THE United States (US) Department of Justice, District of New Jersey, has charged eleven Nigerians for their alleged roles in a large-scale conspiracy to commit bank fraud in southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania over the course of four years.

According to Craig Carpenito, US Attorney, the documents filed in the case showed that the defendants carried out a bank fraud conspiracy in connection with a scheme that used hundreds of fraudulent accounts to defraud several major banks of $6 million which was then laundered and sent overseas to other conspirators.

In the statement released on Thursday, it was highlighted that the eleven Nigerian nationals were arraigned before Justice Joel Schneider of District court of New Jersey.

The accused are Sulaiman Dosunmu, 39; Tunde Adeowo, 40; Muritala Adeowo, 55; Ayanniyi Alayande, 47; Ahmed Ponle, 41; Margiettu Kamu, 34; Rafiat Sarumi, 36; Babatunde Oke, 40; Adekunle Owolabi, 49; Olayinka Olaseinde, 42; and Olugbenga Oyedele, 47.

According to Carpenito, the defendants are allegedly members of a Nigeria-based, multi-layered organization that engaged in a massive bank fraud conspiracy in several states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Rhode Island, between June 2016 and March 2020.

Painting a picture of the crime committed, the US Attorney said that members of the group stole numerous business checks from the United States mail, altered the payee and and deposited the checks in bank accounts that had been opened with forged foreign passport documents and fraudulent U.S. visas.

He added that the names on the forged travel documents matched the names on the stolen checks and the accused finished the operation by withdrawing the funds using ATMs or purchased money orders

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Carpenito further stated that members of the organization have used over 400 fraudulent accounts with fake identity documents to defraud the banks, the statement pointed.

It was gathered that the bank fraud conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.

This is coming shortly after recent sanctions of six Nigerians for alleged internet-related fraud.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, on its official website on Saturday, listed six Nigerians among its most-wanted cybercriminals in a crime resulting in over $6 million losses, The ICIR earlier reported. 

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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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