Founder of Purported Cryptocurrency Company Sentenced to More Than Eight Years in Prison for Multi-Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme
BOSTON – A California man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with his role in an international money laundering scheme designed to hide the illicit proceeds of business email compromise (BEC) schemes.
Oghenetchouwe Adegor Ederaine, Jr. of Santa Monica, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young to 40 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In April 2019, Ederaine pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Ederaine and his co-conspirators were members of an organization that engaged in wire fraud, money laundering and related criminal activity. Ederaine acted as a money mule for the organization by opening numerous bank accounts using different fraudulent identities for the purpose of receiving, withdrawing and transferring proceeds of criminal activity. Specifically, between March 2016 and November 2017, Ederaine used counterfeit passports and other false identification documents to open approximately 23 fraudulent bank accounts at different banks in the Los Angeles area using six different false identities. Ederaine personally laundered between $1.5 million and $3.5 million in fraudulent funds between March 2016 and February 2018.
In January 2018, Ederaine’s co-conspirators gained access to email accounts belonging to a Massachusetts real estate attorney. Ederaine’s co-conspirators sent emails to individuals in Massachusetts that “spoofed” the real estate attorney’s account in an attempt to cause these individuals, who were purchasing real estate, to transfer $531,981 to the account of a woman who, in turn, sent $60,000 to an account controlled by Ederaine. Ederaine then withdrew approximately $9,000 in cash from the account.
In a separate scheme from approximately 2017 through 2018, Ederaine made fraudulent purchases and engaged in fraudulent online transactions using the personally identifiable information (PII) and financial information of numerous students at a Santa Monica ELS Education Services, Inc. Ederaine, who worked at ELS, had access to the PII and financial information of the students, and used that access to make purchases of personal items.
United States Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Boston Field Division made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy Harman Burkart and David J. D’Addio of Lelling’s Cybercrime Unit prosecuted the case.