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Internet Fraud

26.06.2022 Featured US Court Convicts Nigerians for Involvement in $46m Fraud

Published 26th Jun, 2022

By Tola Owoyele

George Ugochukwu Egwumba and Princewell Arinze Duru, two Nigerians residing in California, United States of America, were convicted by a jury for their involvement in an extensive multimillion-dollar fraud.

According to the information made available on the website of the US Department of Justice, Egwumba, 47, and Duru, 33, were members of a Nigerian crime syndicate that perpetrated a wide variety of frauds, including business email compromise (BEC) and romance scams, within the US for several years.

READ ALSO: Nigerian to Face Jail Sentence in the US After Fraud Conviction

While Egwumba was found guilty of one count of aggravated identity theft, Duru was found guilty of one count of wire fraud and one count of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

Both Nigerians were also found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Evidence presented during the seven-day trial that ended on June 15 revealed that the Nigerian-based syndicate used many middlemen to connect with their fellow co-conspirators in the United States.

READ ALSO: IGP Queries Abba Kyari Over Panel Report as Malami Decides Extradition

The middlemen assisted in receiving and laundering the proceeds of the fraud either through US bank accounts, money transmitting services such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or cryptocurrency.

As a reward for services rendered, the middlemen received a percentage of the fraudulently obtained funds.

The middlemen involved in the multifaceted fraud include Valentine Iro, Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe and Chuks Eroha. Iroha was reported to have fled to Nigeria in 2017, after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed a search warrant in this case.

Iro and Igbokwe have pleaded guilty to the criminal charges levelled against them.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Pleads Guilty to Romance Fraud in US Court

The conspiracy involved the laundering of at least $6 million in fraudulently obtained funds and the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.

Sentencing for both Egwumba and Duru have been scheduled for October 17. Both Nigerians face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison.

US prosecutors have so far secured 19 guilty pleas on the case. Additional defendants have also been arrested in Nigeria, while others are believed to be at large.

Published 26th Jun, 2022

By Tola Owoyele

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