3 NIGERIAN SCAMMERS SENTENCED TO 235 YEARS in USA prison
ABOVE LEFT – Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, got 25 years behind bars.
ABOVE CENTER – Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, was given 115 years
ABOVE RIGHT – Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison
You may have heard of hilarious Nigerian scams. My all time favourite is this one:
A Nigerian astronaut has been trapped in space for the past 25 years and needs $3 million to get back to Earth, Can you help?
Moreover, Nigerians are also good at promising true love and happiness.
But You know, Love hurts.
Those looking for true love and happiness lost tens of millions of dollars over the Nigerian dating and romance scams.
These criminals spend their whole day trolling the online dating sites for contact emails and then send off hundreds of thousands of fraudulent emails awaiting the victim’s response.
A US federal district court in Mississippi has sentenced such three Nigerian scammers to a collective 235 years in prison for their roles in a large-scale international fraud network that duped people out of tens of millions of dollars.
The three Nigerian nationals were part of a 21-member gang of cyber criminals, of which six, including Ayelotan, Raheem, and Mewase, were extradited from South Africa to the Southern District of Mississippi in July 2015 to face charges in the case.
- Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, faces up to 95 years in prison
- Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, faces up to 115 years in prison
- Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, faces up to 25 years in prison
A federal jury found all of them guilty of offenses involving mail fraud, wire fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, and theft of government property, the US Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Also, Ayelotan and Raheem were found guilty of conspiracies to commit bank fraud and money laundering, which is why they have been given longer prison sentences.
Until now, the justice department has charged a total of 21 suspects in this case: 12 defendants have already pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy while 11 have been sentenced to date.
The gang has been operating since 2001 and ran a variety of online scams, including romance scams, where the criminals used the false identity of love-struck girlfriends on a dating site to establish a romantic relationship with unsuspecting victims.
Once the gang members gained the victim’s trust and affection, they would convince them to carry out their money laundering schemes and launder money from other rackets via MoneyGrams and Western Union, or resend electronics and other goods bought with stolen credit cards to countries where they could be sold for a profit.
The gang members were arrested by South African police in a joint operation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in December 2015.
However, Nigerian scams will never die, and you could be their next victim.
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Three Nigerians Sentenced in International Cyber Financial Fraud Scheme
Three Nigerian nationals, who were extradited from South Africa to the Southern District of Mississippi in July 2015, were sentenced to prison this week for their roles in a large-scale international fraud network.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco, Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain of the Southern District of Mississippi and Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Orleans made the announcement.
Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison. Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, was sentenced to 115 years in prison. Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. After a three-week trial in early 2017, a federal jury found each defendant guilty of offenses involving mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud and theft of government property. Ayelotan and Raheem were also found guilty of conspiracies to commit bank fraud and money laundering.
A total of 21 defendants were charged in this case, 12 of whom have pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy, and 11 of whom have been sentenced to date. One of the leaders of the conspiracy, Teslim Olarewaju Kiriji, 30, of Nigeria was previously sentenced to 20 years in prison. Six other defendants were previously sentenced to 10 years in prison each for their roles in this conspiracy: Adekunle Adefila, 41, of Nigeria; Anuoluwapo Segun Adegbemigun, 40, of Nigeria; Gabriel Oludare Adeniran, 30, of Nigeria; Olufemi Obaro Omoraka, 27, of Nigeria; Taofeeq Olamilekan Oyelade, 32, of Nigeria; and Olusegun Seyi Shonekan, 34, of Nigeria. Genoveva Farfan, 45, of California, was sentenced to 9 years in prison, and Rhulane Fionah Hlungwane, 26, of South Africa, to five years in prison for their roles in the conspiracy. Olutoyin Ogunlade, 41, of New York, was sentenced to four years in prison. Dennis Brian Ladden, 75, of Wisconsin was sentenced to time served and six months’ home confinement. Susan Anne Villeneuve, 61, of California, pleaded guilty earlier this month and is awaiting sentencing.
According to the plea agreements and evidence at trial, the defendants and their co-conspirators carried out numerous internet-based fraud schemes dating back at least to 2001. These schemes involved using unsuspecting victims to cash counterfeit checks and money orders, using stolen credit card numbers to purchase electronics and other merchandise and using stolen personal identification information to take over victims’ bank accounts. As a whole, the conspiracy involved tens of millions of dollars in intended losses.
To accomplish their fraud schemes, the conspirators recruited the assistance of U.S. citizens via “romance scams,” in which the perpetrator would typically use a false identity on a dating website to establish a romantic relationship with an unsuspecting victim. According to trial evidence and plea documents, once the perpetrator gained the victim’s trust and affection, the perpetrator would convince the victim to either send money or to help carry out fraud schemes. For example, the defendants admitted that they used romance victims to launder money via Western Union and MoneyGram, to re-package and re-ship fraudulently obtained merchandise and to cash counterfeit checks.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Significant assistance was also provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the HSI Cyber Crimes Center, HSI Attachés in Pretoria, South Africa and Dakar, Senegal, the U.S. Marshals Service’s International Investigations Branch and the Southern District of Mississippi District Office, the South African Police Service (SAPS) Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) Electronic Crimes Unit, the SAPS Interpol Extradition Unit, the South African National Prosecution Authority and the South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Trial Attorney Conor Mulroe of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Senior Counsel Peter Roman of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams of the Southern District of Mississippi tried the case.
If you believe that you may have been a victim of criminal fraud committed by any of the defendants, please go to http://www.justice.gov/usao-sdms/scams and complete the questionnaire. Defendants allegedly used the following email addresses and names to perpetuate the scheme:
Lorene M. Garrett
Any information that you provide through the questionnaire may be helpful in the criminal investigation and prosecution of this case. A federal investigator may contact you with additional questions or to request documents you may have. Please note that submitting the questionnaire is not a substitute for consulting with your own attorney to determine what actions and remedies may be available to you through civil litigation. If you have any questions related to this matter that are not addressed at the above websites, you may contact federal law enforcement authorities at [email protected].
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