Extradited UK Citizen Pleads Guilty to Defrauding VCU in Business Email Compromise Scheme
RICHMOND, Va. –A United Kingdom citizen pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, after being extradited from the United Kingdom at the request of the United States.
According to court documents, Olabanji Egbinola, 43, of London, England, participated in a cyber-enabled business email compromise (BEC) fraud scheme that targeted Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). A BEC scheme, also known as “cyber-enabled financial fraud,” is a sophisticated scam that typically targets employees with access to the finances of a business or organization that regularly perform large wire transfer payments. Using technological means and social engineering techniques, BEC conspirators impersonate an employee with a company that has ongoing contracts with the targeted victim. BEC conspirators then trick employees of the victim organization to change bank accounts for upcoming transaction to a bank account that the conspirators control or have access to.
As part of his guilty plea, Egbinola admitted that he impersonated an employee named “Rachel Moore” of the Kjellstrom + Lee Construction Company of Richmond, which had an ongoing construction project with VCU. From September 2018 through December 2018, over the course of multiple emails, Egbinola tricked VCU to change bank accounts for an upcoming payment to Kjellstrom + Lee. On December 20, 2018, a payment intended for Kjellstrom + Lee in the amount of $469,819.44 was transferred from a bank account controlled by VCU to a Bank of Hope account in Los Angeles, California, that the conspirators controlled. Very little of that money was recovered.
Egbinola is scheduled to be sentenced on February 13, 2023. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Richmond Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge David J. Novak accepted the plea.
The Richmond FBI Cyber Task Force conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI Cyber Division, FBI Criminal Division, Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the FBI Legal Attaché London office. United Kingdom authorities also provided substantial assistance.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in UK to secure the arrest and extradition of Egbinola to the United States.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hood is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:22-cr-124.