Quincy Man Arrested for Defrauding Victims Using Various Online Schemes
BOSTON – A Quincy man was arrested yesterday in connection with his role in expansive online fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States.
Kelechi Collins Umeh, 39, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Umeh was released on conditions following an initial appearance yesterday before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal.
According to the charging document, Umeh participated in a series of online scams – including romance, advance fee and business email compromise (BEC) schemes – designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts controlled by him and his co-conspirators. Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. Advance fee scams occur when a criminal asks a victim to pay a fee up front—usually described as a fee, tax, or commission—in order to obtain a bigger payout later, but that payout never occurs. BEC schemes occur when a criminal sends email messages that appear to come from a known source (e.g., “spoofing” a legitimate business email account) to cause victims to transfer funds to accounts controlled by the scammers.
It is alleged that Umeh used fake passports in the names of numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and round Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the online scams. Umeh and co-conspirators then rapidly executed large cash withdrawals from those accounts, often within days of the deposit and generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, allegedly in an effort to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements.
The charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Matthew B. Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen A. Kearney of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging document are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.