Missouri Woman Convicted for International Advance-Fee Scheme
A Missouri woman was convicted by a federal jury for her role in a multimillion-dollar international advance-fee scheme orchestrated from Nigeria.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Osa Martin, 76, of Carthage, traveled internationally on nine occasions between August 2015 and August 2016 while claiming to represent BB&T Corporation. On these trips, she met with victims of the scheme, who had been led to believe by co-conspirators based in Nigeria that they had multimillion-dollar investment agreements with BB&T. Martin signed the investment agreements, purportedly on behalf of BB&T, and then made sham visits to U.S. embassies to make the victims believe that the U.S. Department of State was notarizing and sponsoring the investment agreements. On each trip, Martin collected $7,500 or more in cash from the victims under the false pretense that the cash payment was a fee charged by the U.S. embassy. After her sham visits, Martin coordinated with co-conspirators to ensure victims received fake receipts and documents bearing State Department seals. The victims were then induced by Nigerian co-conspirators to make large wire payments to bank accounts in the United States on the false belief they were necessary fees before BB&T would release their investment funding.
Martin was convicted on Tuesday of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to wrongfully use government seals. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19, and faces up to 20 years in prison for the first count and up to five years in prison for the second count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery for the Southern District of Texas; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; Special Agent-in-Charge James Smith of the FBI’s Houston Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Michael Speckhardt of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Inspector General (DOS-OIG) made the announcement.
The FBI and DOS-OIG investigated the case.
Assistant Chief William Johnston and Trial Attorney Philip Trout of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady of the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.