U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
May 20, 2010
NIGERIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED TO 27 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR BOGUS CHECK & MONEY ORDER SCAM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Nigerian national living in Fall River, Mass., was sentenced Thursday to 27 months in federal prison and three years supervised probation on bank, check, mail and passport fraud charges. Damilola Oke, 34, who also used several aliases, ran a bogus check and money order scam through the mail. Oke pleaded guilty in January to bank, check, mail and passport fraud charges contained in a 35 count indictment.
U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced today’s sentence which was imposed by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.
Neronha commented, “Cases like this are stark reminders to be particularly cautious when receiving unsolicited offers of payment for services where others stand to profit. They likely involve some kind of illegal activity.” Neronha added, “I commend the law enforcement agents and prosecutor who worked on this case, and interrupted a scam that could have resulted in additional wide-spread bank fraud and the loss of significantly more money.”
From March 19, 2008 through July 7, 2008, Oke defrauded a local bank by opening accounts using the alias Charles Mensah on one bank account and the alias Victor Alliu on another account. He deposited counterfeit checks into these accounts and then withdrew funds from the bank. Oke withdrew amounts that resulted in Citizens Bank being defrauded of $12,897.09 through the Charles Mensah Account and of $10,012.72 through the Victor Alliu account.
On February 25, 2009, The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) located a package addressed to Rick Morris, c/o Damilola Oke. The package contained 835 counterfeit postal money orders; each in the amount of $780.89, for a total of $652,043.15. Federal warrants were obtained authorizing the placement of a GPS tracker and transmitter inside the package.
On March 13, 2009, Oke picked up the package at the post office. He was approached by federal agents as he opened the package while in his vehicle. Agents also seized $3,380 in cash found on Oke, $31,000 in cash found in the trunk of the vehicle, and 15 counterfeit money grams, each in the amount of $4,950.00.
Just prior to Oke going into the post office federal agents saw him deposit 26 envelopes into a mailbox. He consented to one of the letters being opened, and a search warrant was obtained to open the remaining 25 envelopes. Each letter was addressed to an individual, with instructions that the individuals were to deposit the bogus checks or money orders into their own bank account, keep 10% of the money, and send the remaining monies to an address in Chicago, Illinois. The envelopes contained a total of 44 counterfeit postal money orders, each in the amount of $799, for a total of $35,156.
Also found in Oke’s possession were two counterfeit passports. One passport purported to be a Liberian passport in the name of Rick Morris. The second passport purported to be a Ghanian passport in the name of Charles Mensah. Both contained a photograph of the defendant.
The matter was investigated by United States Postal Inspection Service and ICE. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Rogers.
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