Indiana Man Convicted in $5.6M Nigerian Fraud Scheme

Manoj Prasad

A federal jury in Texas found an Indianapolis man guilty of being part of a complex international fraud ring that used fake investment and inheritance plans to steal more than $5.6 million from people all over the world. [Source]

Tochukwu Nwosisi, 52, was found guilty on Tuesday of plot to launder money and concealment of money laundering. These crimes were connected to his involvement in advance-fee scams in Nigeria from 2015 to 2018. He could spend up to 20 years in jail for each count.

According to evidence given at trial, Nwosisi worked for the criminal group as a money launderer. He took money from fraud and put it in his U.S. bank accounts before sending it back to the Nigerian leaders of the group. His criminal partners used common advance-fee schemes, tricking people into giving them fake money or inheritances in exchange for fake “fees” and “taxes.”

“Tochukwu Nwosisi played a crucial role in a long-running fraud scheme that bilked victims around the world out of over $5 million through lies and deception,” stated U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani. “This verdict should send a clear message that we remain committed to holding money launderers accountable.”

The Nigerian advance-fee scam, which is also known as a “419” fraud after the section of Nigeria’s criminal code that applies to it, has a long and shady past that goes back decades. Thieves often contact potential victims through emails or letters, pretending to be wealthy people or government officials and offering millions or even billions of dollars in cash or assets in exchange for a down payment.

As soon as the first fee is paid, more calls for taxes, bribes, processing fees, and other costs come up. This is a cycle of fraud that keeps getting worse. People who have been scammed have already taken the money from the victims by the time they understand what happened.

“The FBI and our law enforcement partners are still very interested in these kinds of international fraud schemes,” said Douglas Williams, who is in charge of the FBI’s Houston Field Office. “This conviction represents justice for the many victims deceived by these unconscionable criminal acts.”

Advance-fee scams have changed over the years. They used to be simple letters, but now they use email and digital payment ways to be more sophisticated. But the basic idea behind it is still the same: taking advantage of people’s greed and gullibility to make illegal money. The FBI says that in the last three years, people in the U.S. have lost more than $1.6 billion to these types of scams.

Because he laundered money, Nwosisi could spend decades in prison. Even though he helped move more than $5.6 million in illegal money, it can be hard for investigators and prosecutors to figure out how complex fraud cases with foreign money trails work.

Christopher Hileman of the State Department’s Office of Inspector General said, “This defendant helped hide the trail of money that was stolen from innocent people.” “We will continue to fiercely pursue and prosecute those involved in these despicable financial schemes.”

Authorities have taken down an important part of a larger crime network by convicting Nwosisi. However, the Nigerians who run these advance-fee scams are still on the run. While the police continue their crackdown, people are being warned to stay alert for emails with too-good-to-be-true claims and get-rich-quick deals.

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