The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has indicted a number of Nigerians in a recent coordinated law enforcement effort tagged Operation reWired. The operation was conducted over a four-month period, beginning in May 2019.
It resulted in 281 arrests in the United States and overseas. Specifically, 167 of the arrests were made in Nigeria, 18 in Turkey and 15 in Ghana. Furthermore, arrests were also made in France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom (UK). The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million.
Among those indicted on federal charges in the Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes is Kenneth Ninalowo. Equally important, Kenneth is alleged to be the elder brother of Nollywood actor, Bolanle Ninalowo. He was arrested alongside a lady, Brittney Stokes in Chicago, Illinois.
Both were charged with laundering over $1.5 million from proceeds of BEC scams.
According to the indictment, a community college and an energy company were defrauded into sending approximately $5 million to fraudulent bank accounts controlled by the duo. However, banks were able to freeze approximately $3.6 million of the $5 million defrauded in the two schemes. Also, law enforcement officials seized a 2019 Range Rover Velar S from Stokes and approximately $175,909 from Stokes and Ninalowo.
Also indicted by the FBI are Opeyemi Adeoso, Benjamin Ifebajo, Emmanuel Igomu and Jude Balogun. Other Nigerians indicted are Ifeanyi Eke, Joshua Ikejimba and Chinedu Ironuah.
Adeoso and Ifebajo, both based in Texas, were arrested and charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Both suspects were alleged to have received and laundered at least $3.4 million. In furtherance of their scheme, the FBI alleged that the suspects assumed 12 fictitious identities.
Further, they were accused of defrauding 37 victims from across the United States.
On the other hand, Igomu and Balogun were alleged to be involved in a BEC scam that originated in Nigeria. The FBI noted that the scam began with a $3.5 million transfer of funds fraudulently misdirected from a Georgia-based health care provider to accounts across the United States. The two Nigerians, Igomu and Balogun were arrested on charges of aiding and abetting wire fraud. Specifically, the charges were for their part in receiving and transmitting monies fraudulently derived from the BEC.
Likewise, Eke, Ikejimba and Ironuah, all based in the US, were charged for their involvement in a Nigeria-based BEC scam. The trio were slammed with a one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Also, they face a one count of wire fraud for their part in the BEC scheme.
As a matter of fact, the FBI disclosed that the scheme affected hundreds of victims in the United States. Further, losses were placed in excess of $10 million.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also confirmed that it worked with the FBI on Operation reWired.
EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu revealed that the operation resulted in the recovery of the sum of 169,850 dollars. Also recovered was the sum of N92 million.