Rhode Island Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Launder Funds of Email Compromise Fraud Targeting Massachusetts Lawyer
BOSTON – A Rhode Island man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with a conspiracy to launder funds derived from Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud schemes, including one that targeted a Dorchester, Mass. real estate attorney.
Sayon Balogun a/k/a “Oshine,” 32, a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy before U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, who scheduled sentencing for Nov. 10, 2020. Balogun was initially charged by criminal complaint on May 31, 2019, and arrested in Florida on June 10, 2019.
In January 2018, Balogun’s co-conspirators gained access to email accounts belonging to a Massachusetts attorney engaged in real estate closings. The co-conspirators then mimicked (spoofed) the real estate attorney’s email account and sent emails to a Massachusetts resident who was the purchaser in a legitimate real estate transaction. The spoofed emails directed the Massachusetts real-estate purchaser to wire transfer $531,981 (which the purchaser believed was for a legitimate real estate transaction) to the Wells Fargo account of a California woman, who in turn sent $60,000 to an account in the name of “David Tecum,” a fraudulent identity used by one of Balogun’s co-conspirators, Oghenetchouwe Adegor Ederaine, Jr. This account, and others, were opened by Ederaine to receive fraudulent proceeds at Balogun’s direction.
Ederaine pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and money laundering conspiracy and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
The charging statute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds laundered in the conspiracy. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI in the Southern District of Florida provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney David D’Addio of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.