District Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison For Multi-Million Dollar Fraud and Money Laundering Schemes
Defendant’s Scams Targeted Companies and Individuals
WASHINGTON - Michael A. Orji, 40, formerly of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 10 years in prison on federal charges stemming from his role in at least seven bank fraud schemes, involving at least 10 victims and more than $5.7 million in intended losses.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, John P. Selleck, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Jay N. Lerner, Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Orji, a Nigerian national, pled guilty on Oct. 26, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced by the Honorable Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. Orji also was ordered to pay a restitution judgment in the amount of $905,274.98 divided among five victims with uncompensated losses. As part of his plea agreement, Orji additionally agreed to forfeit $75,254 in previously seized funds and pay a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $1,705,320.03. Following his prison term, he is required to surrender himself to ICE and cooperate with the deportation proceedings to Nigeria.
According to a statement of offense and related conduct acknowledged by Orji, he participated in an ongoing conspiracy from August 2015 through November 2017 to commit a variety of financial frauds, primarily involving stolen checks and business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes. He then laundered the resulting proceeds through a network of fraudulent bank accounts, shell corporations, and co-conspirators in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. In a typical BEC scheme, a co-conspirator working online tricks a company or individual using “spoofed,” or fake, e-mails into transferring large sums of money into bank accounts controlled by those participating in the crime. Soon after the wire transfers are completed, the co-conspirators drain the bank accounts and launder the criminal proceeds.
In total, Orji participated in at least seven bank fraud schemes involving 10 victims and 15 fraudulent accounts opened and/or controlled by the defendant under false names. The schemes generated a total of $905, 274.98 in actual losses and $5,717,596.23 in intended losses.
He used false aliases and forged driver’s licenses in carrying out the crimes.
The victims of the defendant’s frauds included a public school system, a medical center, several small and medium-sized companies, an individual who happened to call the bank in order to take precautions before an international trip, an individual attempting to purchase a new home, and an individual saving for retirement. Meanwhile, according to the government’s evidence, Orji frequented casinos, which he also used to launder money, and lived in a luxury apartment under a borrowed name.
Orji was arrested on Nov. 20, 2017, and has been in custody ever since. On that day, federal agents executed a search warrant on Orji’s residence in the District of Columbia. During the search, , they found 14 fraudulent driver’s licenses corresponding to the defendant’s false aliases, 1 fraudulent Social Security card in the name of false alias, a printed-out copy of the Wikipedia article on “Bank Fraud,” a copy of a journal article on online banking fraud with handwritten markings, a book on creating false identities, and multiple burner phones.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service, the District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General, and the Metropolitan Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher B. Brown, with assistance from Paralegal Specialist C. Rosalind Pressley. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Duvall, Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section Trial Attorney W. Joss Nichols, former Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marston, and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Bateman also assisted in investigating and prosecuting the case.