Six Nigerians Sanctioned By US Over $6m Cyber Scam

Posted on June 16, 2020

FUNSHO AROGUNDADE

The United States Department of State has sanctioned six Nigerians for engaging in a cyber acts targeting United States businesses and individuals.

A statement by the United States Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo stated that the six cyber actors –Benson Nnamdi Orson, 33; Kayode Abiola Ayorinde, 33; Ogunshakin Alex Afolabi, 37; Okpoh Felix Osilama, 31; Olorunyomi Michael, 37; and Uzuh Richard Izuchukwu, 34, were busted before they could scam their targets.

“Technological advancements that provide greater interconnectivity also offer greater opportunity for exploitation by malicious actors who target at-risk Americans,” said Pompeo. 

He added; “Today, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action against six Nigerian nationals, pursuant to Executive Order 13694 as amended, for conducting an elaborate online scheme to steal more than $6 million from victims across the United States.

“The six individuals designated today manipulated their victims to gain access to their sensitive information and financial resources.  The U.S. will not tolerate such gross misuse of technology.  

“The United States will use all of the tools at our disposal to defend the American people and businesses from malign actors that seek to target them, including cyber-enabled actors who prey on vulnerable Americans and businesses.

Meanwhile, the six Nigerians have been added to the Specially Designated Nationals List by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S Department of Treasury as cyber-related designation individual.

OFAC closely coordinated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which Tuesday released details regarding its indictment against members of the conspiracy.

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receives romance fraud victim reports from all ages, education, and income brackets.

However, the elderly, women, and those who have lost a spouse are often targeted.

Tuesday’s action includes the designation of the six Nigerians pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, as amended by E.O. 13757, which targets malicious cyber-enabled activities, including those related to the significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources for private financial gain.

As a result of the action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within or transiting the United States are blocked, and U.S. persons generally are prohibited from dealing with them.

Uzuh was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having engaged in cyber-enabled activities that have the purpose or effect of causing a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources for private financial gain.

From at least early 2015 to September 2016, Uzuh and an accomplice sent emails to victims appearing as though they were coming from a company’s true business executive, and would request and receive wire transfers of funds from the businesses’ accounts. 

Uzuh would often target over 100 businesses in a single day. A loss in excess of $6,300,000 can be attributed to the BEC scheme led by Uzuh and an accomplice.

Olorunyomi was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having engaged in cyber-enabled activities that have the purpose or effect of causing a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources for private financial gain.

From September 2015 to June 2017, Olorunyomi and an accomplice led a scheme that victimized Americans through the use of romance fraud. 

Olorunyomi and his co-conspirators created fictitious profiles on dating websites and posed as individuals looking for love. He developed online relationships with victims to either obtain funds directly from victims, or used their bank accounts to funnel fraudulently obtained money. Losses exceeding $1,000,000 can be attributed to the romance fraud scheme led by Olorunyomi and his accomplice.

Ogunshakin was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having provided financial, material, or technological support for Uzuh.

Ogunshakin conducted BEC and romance scams. 

Ogunshakin provided Uzuh and other co-conspirators with bank accounts that were used to receive fraudulent wire transfers.

Additionally, Ogunshakin assisted Uzuh with contacting victim companies and he conducted his own BEC schemes.

Okpoh was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having provided financial, material, or technological support to Uzuh.

Okpoh conducted romance scams and engaged in money laundering, working closely with Uzuh and others involved in the scheme. 

Okpoh provided hundreds of U.S. bank accounts that were used to receive fraudulent wire transfers from victims of BEC and romance fraud. 

Benson was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having provided financial, material, or technological support to Uzuh.

Benson conducted romance scams and money laundering, working closely with Uzuh. 

Benson communicated with multiple romance fraud victims to obtain their bank account details, and provided the account information to Uzuh to receive fraudulent wire transfers from U.S. businesses.

Kayode was designated pursuant to E.O. 13694, as amended, for having provided financial, material, or technological support to Uzuh.

Kayode conducted BEC and romance scams, working closely with Uzuh and others involved in the scheme. 

Kayode provided U.S. bank accounts to individuals involved in the scheme, one of which was then used to receive a $69,150 fraudulent wire transfer.

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