Woman Sentenced for Cocaine Conspiracy and Multiple Fraud Schemes
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Nigerian woman was sentenced today to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $377,000 in restitution for leading a conspiracy to import more than five kilograms of cocaine into the United States, as well as to her role in a separate bank fraud scheme, and to making false statements relating to fraudulent claims submitted to Medicaid for reimbursement.
“Temitope Ayoni Olaiya, aka “Tammy”, engaged in multiple schemes carried out against the United States, implicating our healthcare system, financial system, our borders, and drug enforcement regime,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Despite coming to this country legally more than a decade ago and living on a green card, Olaiya chose to flout the law in pursuit of a diverse portfolio of criminal activities.”
According to court documents, Olaiya, 41, who resided in Hyattsville, Maryland, and is a legal permanent resident, recruited men from the greater Washington, D.C. area to act as drug couriers; i.e., to travel to foreign countries to obtain drugs to bring back into the United States. Olaiya opened bank accounts in the couriers’ names, assisted them in obtaining passports and visas, and booked their travel arrangements. The couriers that Olaiya recruited traveled primarily to São Paulo, Brazil, where they picked up kilogram quantities of cocaine hidden in the lining of soft-sided briefcases or attaché cases. Altogether, law enforcement seized nearly seven kilograms of cocaine at three different United States airports from three separate couriers recruited by Olaiya.
In addition to the cocaine importation scheme, Olaiya also submitted falsified and fraudulent claims to the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF), a health care benefit program funded by Medicaid. Olaiya worked as a personal care aide for various home health agencies in the Washington D.C. area, and in order to receive payment for services rendered, Olaiya was required to submit timesheets signed by her clients documenting the services rendered. Instead of submitting time sheets for time actually worked providing health care services, Olaiya recruited Medicaid recipients to act as her “patients” and to sign her falsified timesheets in return for a small amount of money as a kickback. On multiple occasions, Olaiya billed DHCF for home health services she claimed to have provided while she was out of the country.
Separate and apart from the cocaine importation and the home health services scheme, Olaiya also used her African goods business in Maryland to carry out a bank fraud. Olaiya used accounts with payment platforms Square and Stripe to make fraudulent charges on stolen credit card numbers. Between June and December 2017, Olaiya submitted, or caused to be submitted, $381,500 in fraudulent credit card charges to the Stripe account. Thereafter, Olaiya switched over to Square, and in the course of about two months, racked up more than $100,000 in fraudulent charges. When Square informed Olaiya that the true account holder had challenged the transaction, Olaiya created handwritten, falsified invoices documenting items purportedly purchased by the account holder, and provided the fake invoices to Square.
This case was prosecuted as part of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation Girl From Ipanema. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; and Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh prosecuted 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. 1:19-cr-294 and 1:19-cr-323.