Diplomatic Security Investigators Disrupt West African Crime Enterprise
The U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), the United States Secret Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police -- with support from authorities in Ghana -- have disrupted a worldwide scheme that allegedly defrauded U.S. and Canadian citizens and travel agencies of an estimated $2 million.
On June 28 law enforcement officers arrived in the United States with Ademola Adegoke, who will face charges resulting from the 10-month investigation, led by DSS.
Adegoke, who is alleged to have managed the crime ring out of the West African nation of Ghana, has been indicted on multiple Federal counts of wire fraud, identity theft, access device fraud, and conspiracy in the Eastern District of Virginia. Ghanaian authorities have indicated that Adegoke is a Nigerian citizen.
Adegoke is alleged to be part of an elaborate fraudulent operation. First, the group purchased stolen credit card account numbers. Second, they electronically manipulated the credit card numbers onto computer images of credit cards. Third, they emailed those images, along with fraudulent passport and driver’s license information, to travel agencies to facilitate the purchase of airline tickets to the United States. And fourth, they sold the tickets to travelers.
“This has been a particularly complex investigation that has required the expertise and talent of numerous U.S and international law enforcement agencies and personnel,” said Todd Brown, Special Agent in Charge of Diplomatic Security’s Washington Field Office. “It serves as an excellent example of the global cooperative nature of law enforcement as well as our own ability to apprehend suspects and deter criminal enterprises that target American citizens beyond the borders of the United States.”
“The methods criminals use to commit financial crimes have evolved significantly over the last several years,” said Jeffrey Irvine, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service’s Washington Field Office. “Cooperation between our federal and local partners, such as the Diplomatic Security Service and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police, has allowed us to focus our individual resources and respond quickly to uncover criminal activity such as this and prevent additional financial fraud.”
Numerous law enforcement agencies were instrumental in assisting the investigation led by the DSS Washington Field Office including: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s JFK Criminal Enforcement Unit, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, the U.S. Department of Education Inspector General’s Office, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Amtrak Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Columbus, Ohio Police Department, and the Alexandria, Virginia Police Department.
Investigators from DSS and the Secret Service worked closely with the Ghanaian Police Service’s Criminal Investigation Division to track down Adegoke. A key part of the successful international law enforcement collaboration was CBP’s Criminal Enforcement Unit at JFK International Airport, which conducted multiple interviews with those suspected of purchasing the tickets on stolen credit cards to gain more information. The Ghanaian Police arrested Adegoke on May 5.
The Government of Ghana expelled Adegoke to the United States. He was flown to New York today and will be prosecuted in the Eastern District of Virginia. An indictment is merely a formal accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. If the suspect is convicted, the U.S. government could potentially seize several international bank accounts and the nearly $700,000 they contain.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the U.S. Department of State's law enforcement and security arm. The special agents, engineers, and security professionals of the Bureau are responsible for the security of 285 U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. In the United States, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the U.S. Secretary of State and high-ranking foreign dignitaries and officials visiting the United States, investigate passport and visa fraud, and conduct personnel security investigations. More information about the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security may be obtained at www.state.gov/m/ds.
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