Hushpuppi’s ally, Woodberry pleads guilty to fraud, agrees to settle victims with $8Million
Olalekan Ponle, better known as Woodberry, has pleaded guilty to a fraud charge at a United States district court, according to report.
The district court for Northern Illinois has set 11 July for his sentencing.
Woodberry is well-known to be an ally of another Nigerian international fraudster, Ramon Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, who was jailed last year.
The two men were arrested for extensive international online scams in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on 10 June 2020, and were flown to the United States to face separate trials.
Hushpuppi, who initially pleaded not guilty, changed his plea to guilty in April 2021, just before a full-blown trial was to begin. The US district court for Central California where prosecutors charged him jailed him for 11 years and ordered him to pay $1.7 million restitution in November 2022.
Hushpuppi gets over 11-year jail term, to pay $1.8 million restitution
Woodberry, accused of defrauding a US company of about $188,000, similarly maintained his innocence for over two years.
He has, however, made a U-turn to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud during a change of plea hearing at the US District Court for Northern Illinois this April, according to court documents.
The judge, Robert Gettleman, accepted the defendant’s change of plea in a ruling delivered on 6 April.
He set 11 July for sentencing after accepting the plea agreement Woodberry entered into with US prosecutors.
The judge referred the case to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence investigation and report, which would guide his decision on the appropriate sentence to impose.
He gave the US government 60 days before the sentencing date to provide the Probation Office and the courtroom deputy a list of victims and their full current contact information to obtain the court’s order of restitution.
“The list shall include any amounts subject to restitution. If the Government is not able to provide the full victim list 60 days before sentencing, they shall file a motion to request an extension of time to compile the information,” the judge added.
Woodberry and Fraud
In pleading guilty, Woodberry confessed to defrauding a company in New York, identified as “Victim Company B” of almost $188,000 through online scams involving business email comprise schemes.
US prosecutors said starting from January 2019, Ponle and his co-schemers “were engaged in a business email compromise scheme targeting Victim Company B and other companies which resulted in a fraudulent wire of approximately $188,191.50 to a bank account.”
How fraudulent plot was hatched
According to the court filing, the scheme began with one or more of Mr Ponle’s co-schemers gaining unauthorised access to Victim Company B’s email account on or before 16 January 2019.
They hacked into the email account by fraudulently obtaining the account credentials, according to the prosecutors.
“Once access to this email account (“Victim Company B Email Account”) had been accomplished, the co-schemers changed certain security settings in the email account to hide their activity from the actual email account user,” prosecutors said in the plea agreement signed by Woodberry.
Swiftly, on 16 January 2019, an email was sent from the compromised Victim Company B’s email account to another email account of the company requesting a $188,191.50 payment be made to Victim Company B’s supplier.
The email, according to prosecutors, contained instructions that the money be sent via wire transfer to a bank account which was set up by Whiteberry.
“PONLE knew that he had no right to the money and that the email was intended to defraud Victim Company B into paying money owed to the supplier to an account controlled by PONLE rather than the supplier.
“As a result of the email, approximately $188,191.50 was sent to 8208 account. PONLE acknowledges that the wire was processed through the Federal Reserve System and sent from an account held in New York, New York to an account ending in held in Nashville, Tennessee,” the plea agreement added.
The document went further to state that on 17 January 2019, Mr Ponle received a message from Individual B informing him that “The money is in”.
It added that Woodberry’s instruction, Individual B converted approximately $119,000 of the proceeds of the fraudulent wire transfer to Bitcoin. “Individual B then sent the Bitcoin to PONLE’s Bitcoin wallet.”
How fraudulent bank account was set up
Woodberry, according to the plea agreement, set up the fraudulent bank account with which he received proceeds of the fraud nine days before he requested payment through Victim Company B’s compromised email account on 16 January 2019.
The prosecutors say, specifically on 7 January 2019, Mr Ponle, using the alias “Mark Kain,” sent a message from outside the US to “Individual B” asking Individual B to open a bank account in the name of a Victim Company B supplier.
Woodberry was said to have told Individual B to “set up a separate business account just to receive the money.”
Acting at Mr Ponle’s direction, Individual B opened an account under the name “[Individual B] d/b/a [Victim Company B supplier]” and sent the account number, which ended in 8208, and routing number to him, the court filing stated.
On 10 January 2019, he sent a message to Individual B indicating that the wire to the Victim Company B supplier account would be “$188K”.
The prosecutor is pushing for the court to order the defendant to make full restitution in the amount outstanding at the time of sentencing.
The US government last year described w Woodberry’s ally, Hushpuppi as “a prolific international fraudster who conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars through a series of online scams.”
The government said Hushpupi “flaunted his luxurious, crime-funded lifestyle on social media.”
His Instagram account, his flagship platform for flaunting his expensive lifestyle, has since been closed at the request of the US government.
Timothy Adegoke’s death: Court sentences Adedoyin to death by hanging
Osun State High Court has found the popular hotel owner, Dr Ramon Adedoyin guilty in the murder case of Timothy Adegoke, a former master’s degree student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, whose death occurred between November 5 and 7, 2021, at Hilton Honours Hotel, Ile-Ife.
The Osun Chief Judge, Adepele Ojo, while delivering her judgement on the case, held that the circumstantial evidence available to the court, pointed to the killing of Adegoke while being a guest at the hotel owned by Adedoyin.
According to her, Adedoyin’s decision not to enter the witness box did not help him, as the circumstantial evidence had shifted the burden of proof on him.
Justice Ojo also said Adedoyin’s decision not to enter the witness box meant he agreed to the murder charge pressed against him by the prosecution, dismissing the alibi pleaded on his behalf by his counsel, who said the hotel owner was in Abuja for many days around the time the death of the late Adegoke occurred.
Senseless: Teenager stabbed to death over rubber slippers
Men of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested two men for allegedly stabbing a 13-year-old boy to death over rubber slippers ownership.
The command’s spokesperson, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest on Monday.
Hundeyin said the incident happened on Sunday around 6pm at Iganmu under the Bridge.
He said the Ijora Badia Police Division got the information from a concerned member of the public that some youths were mobilising to cause mayhem in the Iganmu area.
spokesperson said the crisis was caused by the alleged killing of a 13-year-old boy identified as Ekene.
Hundeyin said a patrol team immediately went to the scene and met the victim in the pool of his blood.
The PPRO said, “Information at the scene indicated that the victim was allegedly stabbed by two boys over a minor issue concerning ownership of rubber slippers.
“It was also gathered that the suspects escaped from the scene after committing the crime.
“A credible intelligence was emplaced which led to the arrest of the duo of Ahmed, 28, and Umaru Abubakar, 18.
“The victim was examined and a deep hole suspected to be injuries sustained from stabbing was seen on the right side of his chest. He was immediately rushed to the Ajeromi General Hospital for urgent medical attention.
“However, he gave up the ghost while receiving treatment. His corpse was evacuated to the Yaba General Hospital for preservation and autopsy.”
Hundeyin said the scene was photographed, while suspects were taken to the station for interrogation, where they confessed to the crime.
He said the deceased’s mother, Mrs Chizoba Agu, of Railway Line, Ijora Badia, came to the hospital and identified the deceased as her son.
He said suspects would be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti for discreet investigation.
Police arrest another set of Yoruba nation agitators in Lagos
Men of the Lagos State Police Command have arrested two Yoruba nation agitators.
The police said they were arrested in the early hours of Sunday when the agitators stormed Alausa Police Division chanting, “Yoruba Nation has taken over.”
In a series of tweets posted on the Lagos Police Command handle, @LagosPoliceNG and signed by the Lagos PRO, Benjamin Hundeyin, the police confirmed that some officers were also injured while trying to disperse the agitators.
The police said, “The agitators, numbering fifteen, had stormed Alausa Police Division at about 0535hrs today, chanting, ‘Yoruba Nation has taken over,’ and injured some police officers who attempted to disperse them. Two of the agitators were arrested while the rest took to their heels following the prompt and coordinated response of the police.
“The suspects who were arrested with charms, dangerous weapons and different offensive insignias bearing Yoruba Nation Army, stormed Alausa Division along with others at about the same time another set of the group was attempting to take over a radio station in Ibadan, Oyo State.
“They claimed they came to officially inform the Police that the United Nations had granted approval for the take-off of the Yoruba Nation. The arrested suspects are currently assisting the police in the ongoing investigation into the subversive plans of the group as well as their network of sponsors, all of whom will soon be unveiled and brought to deserved justice in the overriding internal security interest of the state.”
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, CP Idowu Owohunwa, in the tweet, issued a stern warning that all subversive elements should steer clear of the state as the command is ready to bring the full weight of the law to bear on them or on any other elements that might attempt to disrupt the peace of the state.
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