Conspirators are Alleged to Have Used a Multitude of Fraud Schemes, Including Romance Scams, Investment Fraud, and Business Email Compromise, to Steal at Least $17 Million
SHERMAN, Texas – A federal grand jury in Sherman has returned a two-count indictment charging 23 individuals in a fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
The indictment, returned on Sep. 8, 2021, charges multiple individuals with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment remained sealed until this week, when the defendants were arrested and arraigned.
“The criminal conduct alleged in this case is sophisticated in its means, expansive in its scope, and callous in its aims,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “The indictment alleges a scheme where all manner of fraud—including romance and investment scams—was unleashed on an unsuspecting American public, including the elderly and most vulnerable, with the ill-gotten gains syphoned off and funneled overseas. The amount of loss, both financial and emotional, alleged in this case is nothing short of staggering.”
According to the indictment, beginning around January 2017, the defendants used a multitude of fraudulent schemes to obtain money from their victims, including online romance scams, business email compromise and investor fraud, and unemployment insurance fraud. The indictment further alleges that the defendants not only coordinated how to extract money from their victims, but how to disguise, disburse, and launder that money once they successfully defrauded their victims. Allegedly, the defendants obtained at least $17 million from at least 100 individual victims, companies, and government entities from across the world. The defendants are alleged to have specifically targeted elderly persons and used various schemes such as online dating sites to lure their victims. The indictment charges that once they fraudulently obtained funds from their victims, the defendants laundered the money through a network of various bank accounts and sent money to bank accounts, co-conspirators and businesses located in Africa and Asia.
Indicted individuals that have been arrested include:
- Kingsley Ita, aka “Baron” “Sifk,” 42, of Dallas;
- Irabor Fatarr Musa, aka “Fatai” “Head JJ,” 51, of Richardson;
- Solomon Esekheigbe, 48, of Katy;
- Sandra Iribhogbe Popnen, aka “General,” 46, of Allen;
- Edgal Iribhogbe, aka “Oseme,” 50, of Allen;
- Damilola Kumapayi, aka “Luke Morris,” 33, of Dallas;
- Ehiedu Onyeagwu, aka “Young,” 58, of Rosedale, Maryland;
- Mathew Okpu, 57, of Temple Hille, Maryland;
- Benedicta Atakare, 46, of Temple Hills, Maryland;
- Segun Adeoye, 47, of Pearland;
- Chidindu Okeke, aka “Steve,” 28, of Richmond;
- Ngozi Okeke, 47, of Katy;
- Nosoregbe Asemota, aka “Patrick Asemota,” 46, of Melissa;
- Chigozi Ekwenugo, 53, of Grand Prairie;
- Bukola Obaseki, 48, of Allen;
- Stella Hadome, 43, of Allen;
- Jequita Batchelor, 37, of Farmers Branch;
- Osaretin Eghaghe, aka “Biggie,” 37, of Plano;
- Ejiro Ohwovoriole, 29, of McKinney;
- Isaac Asare, aka “Asarko,” 48, of Houston;
- Gold Ude, 44, of Wylie;
- Henrietha Oziegbe, 23, of Lexington, Kentucky; and
- Kingsly Oziegbe, 25, of Edinburg.
The indictment unsealed today in the Eastern District of Texas complements indictments unsealed in the Northern District of Texas, which charged 11 defendants (including one also charged in the Eastern District of Texas) with a variety of financial crimes.
If convicted, defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 10am-6pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office; Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS); U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service; Allen Police Department; Denton Police Department; Dallas County Sheriff’s Office; and Texas Department of Public Safety. This case is being prosecuted by the Plano Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas with assistance from Northern District of Texas Assistant U.S. Attorneys.