Greensboro, North Carolina Co-Conspirator Convicted of Defrauding Victims of Millions of Dollars
Members of the Conspiracy Formed Online Romantic Relationships to Entice Victims to Provide Money
June 16, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Elizabeth Morse at (410) 209-4885
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal jury convicted defendant Olusola Olla, 50, of Greensboro, NC, on June 16, 2017, for conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring financial transactions arising from a scheme to defraud vulnerable victims of millions of dollars. The following defendants were previously convicted at trial or pleaded guilty:
Gbenga Benson Ogundele, a/k/a “Benson Ogundele,” age 58, of Laurel, Maryland;
Victor Oyewumi Oloyede, age 42, 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 34, of Bowie, Maryland; his sister,
Mojisola Tinuola Popoola, a/k/a “Mojisola Oluwakemi Tin Popoola” and “Moji T. Popoola,” age 42, of Laurel;
Adeyinka Olubunmi Awolaja, Jr., a/k/a “Yinka O. Awolaja, Jr.,” age 34, formerly of New Carrolltown, Maryland; and
Olufemi Wilfred Williams, a/k/a “Wilfred Olufemi Williams” and “Femi Williams,” age 26, of Owings Mills, Maryland.
The conviction was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to evidence presented at the 11-day trial, from January 2011 to May 18, 2015, members of the conspiracy searched online dating websites to initiate romantic relationships with vulnerable 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.
Witnesses testified that members of the conspiracy used false stories and promises to convince the victims to give them money, including fake hospital bills, plane trips to visit the victims, and problems with overseas businesses. Olla and co-conspirators opened bank accounts, called “drop accounts,” that received millions of dollars from the victims. Testimony at trial showed that victims provided money to the defendants as a result of the false stories and promises, either by depositing money directly into drop accounts controlled by the defendants, or by checks sent to them. Payments from victims ranged from $1,720 to $50,000.
Olla and the co-conspirators dispersed money received from the victims by transferring funds to other accounts they controlled, by obtaining cashier’s checks, and by writing checks to individuals or entities, all done to conceal the nature, source, and control of those assets. Relatedly, many of the currency transactions were “structured,” or designed to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports, which financial institutions are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service for currency transactions exceeding $10,000.
Olla faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit money laundering and a maximum of 5 years in prison for structuring financial transactions. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled for Olla.
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.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom and Ray D. McKenzie, who are prosecuting the case.