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23.02.2023 Featured How Nigeria-Based Fraudster Bought Costly Medical Equipment Disguised as US Officials

Published 23rd Feb, 2023

By Joseph Adeiye

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has revealed that Olamilekan Idowu Fatade received a five-year prison sentence on Wednesday for initiating a multimillion-dollar fraud.

A US Department of Justice statement revealed that Fatade, a 41-year-old Nigerian, impersonated US officials to fraudulently acquire costly equipment. Fatade previously pled guilty to wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

Caproni imposed Wednesday’s sentence on Fatade.

READ ALSO: How Nigerian Defrauded American Wife of $200,000 With Fake Abuja Contract

According to court documents, Fatade engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars of medical equipment, laboratory products, computer equipment and hardware, and other merchandise from suppliers across the United States. He did this by impersonating procurement officials of states, local governments and educational institutions between 2018 and September 2020.

Fatade also impersonated the Chief Procurement Officer of New York State to fraudulently obtain medical equipment, including defibrillators, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

HOW OLAMILEKAN FATADE IMPERSONATED OFFICERS, TRICKED SUPPLIERS

The US Department of State detailed how Fatade perpetrated his fraud between 2018 and 2020:

“First, Olamilekan engaged in extensive research to identify specific procurement officials of U.S. state and local governments and educational institutions to impersonate and U.S. suppliers of medical, laboratory, and computer equipment to target as part of the scheme,” the US DOJ stated.

“This research included obtaining information about the current suppliers to the state and local governments and educational institutions Olamilekan sought to impersonate and targeting those suppliers in order to avoid arousing suspicion. For example, Olamilekan appears to have specifically targeted a medical supplier that was already providing medical equipment to New York State in or to avoid suspicion when Olamilekan, who was impersonating the Chief Procurement Officer of New York State, contacted the supplier to obtain medical equipment.

“Second, after Olamilekan identified procurement officials to impersonate, he used aliases and a Lithuanian web hosting company to register email accounts with domains that had slight variations from the legitimate email accounts used by procurement officials in order to “spoof” or impersonate those officials’ email accounts (the “spoofed emailed accounts”).

“The spoofed email accounts used by Olamilekan usually had the same username as the procurement official’s email account but added an extra letter or common domain name to the domain of the email account. These spoofed email accounts were therefore specifically designed to trick suppliers to impersonated procurement officials into thinking the spoofed email accounts were authentic. 

“In total, Olamilekan registered and used spoofed email accounts impersonating at least (i) eight different procurement officials of state and local governments in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont; and (ii) three procurement officials of educational institutions located in Georgia and New York.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Faces 20-Year Jail Term for $475,710 Fraud in Guam

“Third, Olamilekan used the spoofed email accounts to send emails impersonating the procurement official and seeking quotes for medical, laboratory, and computer equipment from targeted suppliers. These emails typically indicated that the payment terms would be “net 30 days,” which is a standard term of trade credit for government and educational entities that only requires payment for the goods within 30 days of delivery. Olamilekan therefore impersonated the identities of procurement officials of government entities and educational institutions in order to exploit this industry standard and fraudulently obtain equipment without providing any advance payment information or deposit prior to delivery of the equipment.”

WAREHOUSES IN AUSTRALIA, THE UK AND US

Fatade always provided a willing supplier with a purchase order containing the forged signature of the impersonated procurement official and the address of a warehouse in the United States.

The ordered items were delivered and stored in the warehouse then shipped again to other warehouses in Australia, the United Kingdom, around the United States and Nigeria.

“Olamilekan also coordinated with the warehouses receiving the shipments from the targeted suppliers using the stolen identity of at least one U.S. resident, thereby further concealing his own identity and avoiding detection of his criminal activity,” US DOJ stated.

“Because payment was not due to the suppliers until 30 days after delivery of the equipment, Olamilekan was able to take possession of the equipment prior to detection of the fraud, which typically occurred after payment was not received by the supplier within the 30-day period.”

READ ALSO: Akwa Ibom Judge Sentences Man to 110 Years in Prison for Fraud

SUBSTANTIAL PRISON TIME, $306,852 RESTITUTION

Williams said that Fatade deserved substantial prison time for his crimes.

Aside from his five-year prison sentence, Fatade also got three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $306,852.18.

“Fatade Idowu Olamilekan carried out a sprawling criminal scheme from Nigeria to fraudulently obtain medical equipment and other merchandise by impersonating government officials, including the Chief Procurement Officer for New York. Olamilekan will now face substantial prison time for his criminal conduct,” Williams said.

Law enforcement arrested Fatade in Nigeria on October 1, 2021, and extradited him from Nigeria to the United States on July 14, 2022. Fatade has been detained since his arrest.

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Published 23rd Feb, 2023

By Joseph Adeiye

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