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Press Release

Nigerian National Sentenced to 121 Months in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Launder Proceeds of Internet Fraud Schemes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Delaware

WILMINGTON, Del. – David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that a Nigerian national was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison for conspiring to launder money derived from internet fraud schemes.  Lawal’s sentence included an order that he pay $1,460,875 in restitution to victims of the fraud schemes.  U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika pronounced the sentence. 

Olugbenga Lawal, 33, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to commit money laundering on August 10, 2023. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Lawal worked directly with the Nigeria-based leader of an international criminal organization that defrauded individuals and businesses across the United States out of millions of dollars through sophisticated internet-based fraud schemes, including romance fraud and business email compromise schemes, and laundered the proceeds of those fraud schemes.  The criminal organization frequently targeted elderly victims who believed they had fallen in love with people they had met on the internet.

Between January 2019 and June 2020, bank accounts used by Lawal and his co-conspirators to launder money on behalf of the criminal organization received millions of dollars traced directly to individuals and businesses defrauded over the internet by members of the criminal organization. 

Lawal played a vital role in laundering money for the criminal organization by working to convert the fraud dollars entering his accounts into Nigerian currency accessible in Nigeria.  He engaged in sophisticated import/export transactions involving the shipment of cars to Nigeria and currency exchange business transactions to facilitate the repatriation of the organization’s fraud proceeds back to Nigeria.

Three co-conspirators, Michael Hermann, Rita Assane, and Dwight Baines previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and have yet to be sentenced.

U.S. Attorney Weiss commented, “Criminal organizations around the world continue to use the internet to defraud hardworking American citizens and businesses out of millions of dollars.  Too often, those victims are elderly individuals who unknowingly give up their life savings to a fraudster.  My office and our law enforcement partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting the criminal actors who perpetrate those frauds and individuals, like Mr. Lawal, who launder their money.”

“Lawal went to great lengths to further this sophisticated scheme to defraud vulnerable Americans and legitimate businesses,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the FBI'S Baltimore Field Office. “This sentence is more than just, given the unscrupulous tactics used. This case demonstrates the FBI’s resolve to hold fraudsters accountable.”

This case was investigated by FBI Baltimore Field Office’s Wilmington Resident Agency. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jesse S. Wenger and Meredith C. Ruggles of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware and Trial Attorneys Mary K. Daly and Michael Grady of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), with assistance from MLARS Trial Attorneys Madeleine Case and Jasmin Salehi Fashami.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the District of Delaware or on PACER by searching for Case No. 22-cr-11.

Updated January 8, 2024

Financial Fraud