Conspirators Indicted for Defrauding Elderly Victims of Millions of Dollars
Allegedly Formed Online Romantic Relationships to Entice the Victims To Provide Money
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury indicted the following defendants on charges arising from a scheme to defraud elderly victims of millions of dollars:
Gbenga Benson Ogundele, a/k/a “Benson Ogundele,” age 57, of Laurel, Maryland;
Mukhtar Danjuma Haruna, a/k/a “Mukhtar Haruna Danjuma” and “Mukky,” of Lagos, Nigeria;
Victor Oyewumi Oloyede, age 41, of Laurel;
Olusegun Charles Ogunseye, a/k/a “Charles O. Ogunseye,” age 58, of Laurel;
Babtunde Emmanuel Popoola, a/k/a “Emmanuel Popoola” and “Tunde Popoola, age 40, of Bowie, Maryland;
Adeyinka Olubunmi Awolaja, Jr., a/k/a “Yinka O. Awolaja, Jr.,” age 33, formerly of New Carrolltown, Maryland;
Mojisola Tinuola Popoola, a/k/a “Mojisola Oluwakemi Tin Popoola” and “Moji T. Popoola,” age 41, of Laurel;
Olusola Olla, age 48, of Brown Summit, North Carolina; and
Olufemi Wilfred Williams, a/k/a “Wilfred Olufemi Williams” and “Femi Williams,” age 26, of Owings Mills, Maryland.
The indictment was returned on May 18, 2015 and partially unsealed today upon the arrests of eight of the defendants. Mukhtar Haruna has not been arrested and is believed to be overseas. Olusola Olla had his initial appearance in federal court in North Carolina this morning, and was ordered detained and to be transferred to Maryland. The initial appearances of the remaining defendants who were arrested are scheduled for this afternoon in federal court in Greenbelt and Illinois.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the 10 count indictment, from January 2011 to May 18, 2015, members of the conspiracy searched online dating websites to initiate romantic relationships with elderly male and female individuals. They phoned, emailed, texted and used internet chat messenger services to form romantic relationships with the victims, who lived in Maryland and around the country.
The indictment alleges that members of the conspiracy used a number of false stories and promises to convince the victims to provide money to the conspirators, including fake hospital bills, plane trips to visit the victims, problems with overseas businesses and foreign taxes. The conspirators opened bank accounts in order to receive millions of dollars from the victims.
The indictment alleges numerous deposits from several victims into bank accounts controlled by the defendants, or checks received from the victims, ranging in individual amounts from $1,720 to $30,000.
All of the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud, and for conspiring to commit money laundering.
Additionally, all of the defendants except for Mojisola Popoola face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutive to any other sentence for aggravated identity theft, arising from the alleged use of a victim’s name, bank account number or driver’s license in furtherance of the fraud scheme.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.
Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom and Leah Jo Bressack, who are prosecuting the case.