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Three Nigerians indicted in US over alleged ‘$6m wire fraud’, risk 20-year jail term

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Three Nigerians have been indicted in the United States over alleged fraud relating to a business email compromise (BEC) scheme to the tune of $6 million.

The suspects are Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, 29; James Junior Aliyu, 28; and Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, 31. The suspects are said to be residing in South Africa.

The US Department of Justice, in a statement on Thursday, said the defendants allegedly conspired with some residents in Maryland to gain “unauthorised access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses”.

“According to the seven-count indictment, from February 2016 until at least July 2017, the defendants conspired with others to perpetrate a BEC scheme,” the US DOJ said.

“Specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators, including co-conspirators residing in Maryland, gained unauthorised access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses targeted by the conspirators.

“The co-conspirators then allegedly sent false wiring instructions to the victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses, to deceive the victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by perpetrators of the scheme, called “drop accounts.”

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“The indictment also alleges that the defendants conspired to commit money laundering by disbursing the fraudulently obtained funds in the drop accounts to other accounts by initiating account transfers, withdrawing cash, obtaining cashier’s checks, and by writing checks to other individuals and entities, to hide the true ownership and the source of those assets.”

In the statement, the US said the first defendant — Simon-Ebo — was extradited to the US from Canada on Wednesday and expected to make his first appearance in court on Friday.

Giving details of the alleged crime, the US said: “For example, defendant Aliyu is alleged to have made a $350,000 wire transfer from one of the drop accounts in Maryland to an account he controlled in South Africa, knowing that the funds were the proceeds of a crime and that the transaction was designed to conceal the nature, source, and ownership of those funds.

“Specifically, Simon-Ebo is charged in three wire fraud counts involving $6,343,533.10 in victim funds being wired to accounts controlled by conspirators.”

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The defendants are liable to 20 years in federal prison if found guilty.

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Court orders final forfeiture of over N12.18bn choice properties linked to Emefiele

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Friday ordered the final forfeiture to the Federal Government properties valued at over N11.14bn and another N1.04 billion linked to the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele.

 

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke made the order of permanent forfeiture after hearing an application filed and argued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), through its counsel Chineye Okezie.

 

On June 5, 2024, The judge had upheld the anti-graft agency’s motion filed and argued by its counsel, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo for a temporary forfeiture of the properties.

 

Oyedepo informed the court that Emefiele was suspected of having bought the choice properties by proxy, with the proceeds of fraud.

 

The EFCC named two current and one former CBN staff as Emefiele’s accomplices in the alleged fraud.

The trio, according to the affidavit filed in support of the application, are Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo working with Olubunmi Makinde a former CBN staff and others.

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The properties are mostly located in highbrow parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

 

Justice Aneke ordered the EFCC to publish the order for interim forfeiture in a national newspaper for any interested party to show cause why the final order of forfeiture should not be made.

 

The judge then adjourned for a hearing of the application for final forfeiture.

Upon resumption on June 21, no party appeared in court to contest the judge’s interim order and Chineye Okezie moved her application for the permanent forfeiture.

 

After reading a 41-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an EFCC Investigating Officer, Michael John Idoko, the 19 Exhibits attached, a Written Address signed by Okezie, and after hearing Okezie’s motion, Justice Aneke granted the application.

 

The properties were listed by the EFCC in two schedules, A and B.

The judge said: “Having carefully considered the application and submission of counsel, it is hereby ordered as follows: – that a final forfeiture order of this honourable court is hereby made forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria, properties contained in Schedule A herein which were traced and reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.”

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They include shops and apartments at Cadastral Zone Maitama and Wuse.

 

For Schedule B, Justice Aneke added: “That a final forfeiture order of this Honourable Court is hereby made forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria, properties contained in Schedule B herein which properties were traced to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.”

 

The properties include lands and apartments which were paid for on behalf of Oluwaseun at a total value of N1.04 billion.

 

According to the affidavit, Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo working with Olubunmi Makinde “used their positions and Influence as CBN staff to secure retail and Special allocation of Foreign Exchange to different companies in exchange for kickbacks.

 

“That Olubunmi Makinde is the link between Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo and the various companies applying for the purchase of foreign exchange.

 

“That Obayemi Oluwaseun Teben and Akomolafe Adebayo as staffs of the Central Bank of Nigeria has access to the bidding processes and bidding Data of companies who has applied for the approval of form Ms to the CBN through their various commercial banks.”

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Nigerian-born boxer shot dead by neighbour in US

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Isaiah Olugbemi, a Nigerian-born boxer, has been confirmed dead after he was shot multiple times in Odenton, Maryland, US.

 

According to local police, Olugbemi was found on the ground with gunshot wounds along Meadowmist Way in the city on June 17.

 

The 27-year-old was rushed to the Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced later pronounced dead.

 

Court documents later revealed that the police obtained surveillance footage showing a white male confronting Olugbemi with a handgun before shooting him multiple times and fleeing the scene on foot.

 

Nicholas Giroux, the victim’s neighbour, was identified as the suspect in the footage.

 

According to CBS, police said they interviewed Giroux on June 18, and he confessed to the crime and was charged with first and second-degree murder.

 

Abraham Olugbemi, the victim’s brother, alleged that Giroux had threatened the deceased at least two other times with a gun this year — in January and June.

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Olugbemi was a Junior Olympics gold medalist, a three-time Golden Gloves state boxing champion and a two-time Open Regional champion.

 

Giroux’s preliminary hearing is set for July 17.

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Gunmen abduct pregnant woman due for delivery on her way to hospital

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Some yet-to-be-identified armed men have abducted a pregnant woman, simply identified as Mrs Ogunbunmi in Ogun State.

 

Mrs Ogunbunmi, who was said to be due for delivery, reportedly left her home in Oke Lantoro for the State General Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta before her reported abduction on a date not disclosed.

 

According to reports, her husband, Ogunbunmi Lateef, received a WhatsApp message notifying him of his wife’s kidnapping by these abductors.

Confirming the incident, on Thursday in a statement on her X handle formerly called Twitter, the spokesperson for the state police command, Omolola Odutola, said the suspected abduction had been reported to the command.

 

Odutola stated, “One Ogunbunmi Lateef of Oke Lantoro reported that his pregnant wife due for delivery left home for State Hospital Ijaiye Abeokuta.

 

“He received a WhatsApp message confirming the abduction of his wife by unknown armed men”.

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