Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal jury convicted Eunice Nkongho, a/k/a “Eunice Bisong,” age 40 of California, on October 15, 2021, after a seven day trial, for conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, related to a scheme to fraudulently obtain goods using what appeared to be a military e-mail address, but was actually a registered Yahoo e-mail address.
The guilty verdict was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service - Mid-Atlantic Field Office; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Special Agent in Charge Nasir Khan of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement's Washington Field Office.
According to testimony at the seven-day trial and court documents, a co-conspirator of Nkongho’s established and used what was purported to be a U.S. Navy e-mail address, authentic forms, titles, addresses and other indicia to pose as a U.S. government contracting agent and fraudulently obtain merchandise, including large-screen televisions, specialized communications equipment, iPhones and iPads. Much of the fraud scheme was conducted from outside the United States, including from Nigeria. Three victim companies—one that provided wireless voice and data services that was headquartered in Washington State, one that was a wholesale audio-video distributor and manufacturer’s representative located in Virginia, and a defense contractor that designed, manufactured, and marketed communications equipment that was headquartered in Maryland—shipped merchandise, without prior payment, to East Coast co-conspirators. Those individuals then shipped the stolen items to other co-conspirators on the West Coast, where they were sold.
Specifically, the evidence at trial proved that after twice receiving bags of cash from a co-conspirator in a gas station parking lot in Los Angeles, which was proceeds from the sale of the fraudulently obtained Apple products, Nkongho laundered the money two separate series of complex transactions involving at least five bank accounts and, in doing so, both promoted the ongoing criminal activity and concealed the illegal source of the funds. After multiple transactions, Nkongho wired some of this money to a co-conspirator in Nigeria in a way that would avoid transaction reporting requirements.Similarly, the evidence at trial proved that Nkongho engaged in other transactions to conceal the nature and ownership of proceeds from the sale of the fraudulently obtained televisions.
Of the nine defendants charged in this case, Nkongho has now been convicted after trial and seven others have pleaded guilty to their roles in the fraud scheme. One defendant, Eunice Nkongho’s husband, Peter Unakalu, is a fugitive.
Nkongho faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the conspiracy and for money laundering. U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for February 17, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron praised the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement for their work in the investigation, and thanked the FBI Washington Field Office and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for their assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph R. Baldwin and Adam K. Ake, who are prosecuting the case.
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