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Nigerian national extradited to face fraud, money laundering charges in US after HSI Baltimore investigation

Fraud, Bribery & CorruptionNigerian national extradited to face fraud, money laundering charges in US after HSI Baltimore investigation

GREENBELT, Md. — An investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore and the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington, D.C. Field Office resulted in the extradition of the first of three Nigerian citizens facing federal charges related to a $6 million fraud scheme. Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, 29, was extradited from Canada to the United States April 12 to face a federal indictment.

Simon-Ebo and his accomplices, James Junior Aliyu, 28, and Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, 31, all Nigerian citizens residing in South Africa, have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and with wire fraud and money laundering charges related to a business email compromise scheme that resulted in losses of more than $6 million.

“Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo and his coconspirators allegedly used bank accounts in Maryland to run an online fraud scheme that cheated unwitting victims out of more than $6 million,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris. “HSI Baltimore’s Mid-Atlantic El Dorado Task Force is proud to have partnered with the U.S. Secret Service to put an end to this scheme. We will utilize all available resources to protect the residents of Maryland from fraudsters who intend to do them financial harm.”

According to the investigation, from February 2016 until at least July 2017, the defendants conspired with others to perpetrate a business email compromise scheme. Specifically, the investigation revealed that the defendants and their co-conspirators, including some residing in Maryland, allegedly targeted and gained unauthorized access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses.

The co-conspirators then allegedly sent false wire transfer instructions to victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses, to trick victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by perpetrators. These accounts are known as “drop accounts.”

The investigation also revealed that the defendants allegedly conspired to commit money laundering by moving money from drop accounts to other accounts they controlled by initiating account transfers, withdrawing cash, obtaining cashier’s checks and writing checks to others to hide those assets’ true ownership and sources.

In one instance, Aliyu allegedly 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.

Finally, the investigation led to wire fraud charges related to the business email compromise scheme. Simon-Ebo, specifically, was charged in three wire fraud counts involving $6,343,533.10 in victim funds being wired to accounts controlled by conspirators.

If convicted, the each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy, the money laundering conspiracy, and each count of wire fraud. If convicted, Aliyu also faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for money laundering.

This investigation was conducted by HSI Baltimore and the U.S. Secret Service Washington, D.C. as part of the HSI Mid-Atlantic El Dorado Task Force, with significant assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

HSI encourages members of the public to report instances of fraud, crimes, or suspicious activity by calling the HSI Tip Line at 866-347-2423. The tip line is manned 24 hours a day.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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