Nigerian Man Sentenced to Four Years for Counterfeiting Offense
James L. Santelle, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, today announced that Nimionwantue Mike Idahor (age 28) of Nigeria, was sentenced by the Honorable Judge J.P. Stadtmueller to four years’ imprisonment for his role in a conspiracy to make, sell, and pass counterfeit obligations of the United States. In addition to his prison sentence, Idahor was ordered to pay restitution to the identified victim retail stores where the counterfeit currency was passed.
Idahor, a Nigerian national operating in Nigeria, supplied a number of individuals in the Chicago area with counterfeit $100 Federal Reserve Notes (FRN) produced by a sophisticated printing press in Nigeria. The counterfeit $100 bills were high quality notes, which were entirely offset printed (similar to the printing process used by the Bureau of Engraving); contained readable micro-printing; had simulated Optical Variable Ink (used to make parts of the $100 bill appear to change colors), had a simulated watermark; and had a simulated embedded security thread on the front of each note. Between 2008 and 2011, Idahor mailed over $300,000 worth of counterfeit $100 bills from Nigeria to his co-conspirators in the United States. The bills were generally secreted inside African wedding caps. The U.S. co-conspirators passed the counterfeit $100 bills at various retail stores in the Northern District of Illinois and in the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.
Five of the U.S. conspirators were indicted on August 16, 2011 in United States v. Anthony Lee, et al, 11-CR-177 (JPS). Lee, the lead U.S. defendant, immediately cooperated and the Secret Service commenced consent interceptions of wire/electronic communications between Lee in Chicago and Idahor in Nigeria. The Secret Service also arranged two controlled shipments of counterfeit $100 bills from Idahor to Lee.
The Secret Service agents also convinced Idahor to send them an electronic copy of his Nigerian passport, which confirmed his identity. Working with numerous other U.S. agencies, the Secret Service arranged for Idahor to fly from Nigeria to Milwaukee. On December 19, 2011, Idahor was arrested at General Mitchell International Airport. He subsequently pled guilty on February 17, 2012.
In announcing his sentence, Judge Stadmueller noted the aggravated nature of Idahor’s conduct and noted the need to provide a just punishment for the offense and hopefully deter others from getting involved in such offenses against the United States.The successful prosecution of this case was the result of an exceptional investigation by the United States Secret Service in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Africa, with assistance from the United States Marshal’s Office in Milwaukee. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John J. Manning. Trial Attorney Timothy Hammer from the Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs, along with the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, provided substantial assistance coordinating Idahor’s travel to the United States.