Six Individuals Charged with Using Various Online Scams to Defraud Victims of More Than $4 Million
BOSTON – Six people were charged in three criminal complaints in connection with their roles in expansive online fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States, including romance scams and pandemic unemployment assistance fraud.
Osakpamwan Henry Omoruyi, 36, a Nigerian national residing in Canton, Mass.; Osaretin Godspower Omoruyi, 34, a Nigerian national residing in Canton, Mass; and Macpherson Osemwegie, 32, of Hyde Park, Mass. were charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Mark Arome Okuo, 41, a Nigerian national residing in Canton, Mass., and Florence Mwende Musau, 36, a Kenyan national residing in Canton, Mass., were charged in a separate complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.
Mike Oziegbe Amiegbe, 42, a Nigerian national residing in Dorchester, Mass., was charged in a third complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
According to the charging documents, the defendants allegedly participated in a series of romance and other online scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts and debit cards controlled by them. 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. To carry out the schemes here, the defendants allegedly used fake passports in the names of numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the romance scams. The defendants then allegedly executed large cash withdrawals from those accounts, often multiple times on a single day and generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements. The accounts allegedly were also used to collect fraudulent pandemic unemployment benefits in the names of Massachusetts beneficiaries who did not apply for such benefits. Across the romance and unemployment schemes, more than $4 million in fraud proceeds was deposited into accounts allegedly controlled by defendants.
The charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud provide for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and forfeiture. The charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 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 other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Jessica Moore, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement today. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration also assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom, Ian Stearns and Kristen Kearney of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the cases.
The details contained in the complaints are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.