11 Nigerians have been arraigned in a US court for their alleged role in a large-scale conspiracy to commit $6m bank fraud in southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania.
The suspects identified as Sulaiman Dosunmu, 39; Tunde Adeowo, 40; Muritala Adeowo, 55; Ayanniyi Alayande, 47; Ahmmed Ponle, 41; Margiettu Kamu, 34; Rafiat Sarumi, 36; Babatunde Oke, 40; Adekunle Owolabi, 49; Olayinka Olaseinde, 42; Olugbenga Oyedele, 47 were each charged with bank fraud conspiracy in connection with a scheme that used hundreds of fraudulent accounts to defraud several major banks of $6 million and then laundered the money and send it overseas to other conspirators.
Documents filed by the US Department of Justice in court read;
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. Members of the group stole numerous business checks from the United States mail, altered the payee on the checks to a fraudulent name and deposited the checks in bank accounts that had been opened with forged foreign passport documents and fraudulent U.S. visas that matched the names on the stolen checks. Once the banks credited all or a portion of the funds to the accounts – but before the checks had cleared – the defendants withdrew the funds from ATMs or purchased money orders, using debit cards associated with the fraudulent accounts. Members of the organization have used over 400 fraudulent accounts with fake identity documents to defraud the banks.
The organization also laundered the proceeds of the fraud by several means, including using debit cards to purchase money orders from third party stores and using those money orders to purchase used automobiles from different automobile auction companies in Pennsylvania. The vehicles were then exported to Nigeria and other countries in Africa to launder the stolen funds and to increase profits by selling the vehicles at the higher market values obtained for vehicles in these foreign countries.
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 barely two weeks after six Nigerians were also indicted in the United States for their alleged involvement in over $6m internet fraud.