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Press Release

Nigerian National Pleads Guilty to His Role in a Business Email Compromise Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Greenbelt, Maryland – Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, age 32, a Nigerian national residing in South Africa at the time of the criminal conduct, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, related to a business email compromise (“BEC”) scheme.  Echefu arrived in the United States on November 30, 2023, after being extradited from Canada. 

The guilty plea was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Special Agent in Charge Matthew R. Stohler of the U.S. Secret Service - Washington Field Office.

According to his plea agreement, from February 2017 until at least July 2017, Echefu conspired with others to perpetrate a BEC scheme.  Specifically, Echefu and his co-conspirators, including co-conspirators residing in Maryland, gained unauthorized access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses targeted by the conspirators and sent false wiring instructions to the victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses, to deceive the victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by perpetrators of the scheme, called “drop accounts.” 

Further, during the same time frame, Echefu and his co-conspirators conspired to commit money laundering by disbursing the fraudulently obtained funds in the drop accounts to other accounts by initiating account transfers, withdrawing cash, obtaining cashier’s checks and by writing checks to other individuals and entities, to hide the true ownership and the source of those assets.  As detailed in the plea agreement, the intended loss for transactions in which Echefu was directly involved—which were some, but not all of the transactions involving Echefu and his co-conspirators—was approximately $304,414 and the actual loss resulting from these transactions was at least $199,929.  Echefu had personal control over at least $22,187.35 of the funds obtained from victims. 

According to the plea agreement, Echefu will be required to pay a money judgment in the amount of $22,187.35 and pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, which the parties agree is at least $199,929.

Echefu faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy and for the money laundering conspiracy.  U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled sentencing for May 23, 2024, at 2:00 p.m.

Co-defendant Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, age 30, also a Nigerian nation who resided in South Africa at the time of the criminal conduct, extradited from Canada on April 12, 2023, previously pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay a money judgment of $45,925 and to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, $1,072,306.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI’s Mid-Atlantic El Dorado Task Force and the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the Department of Justice Canada’s International Assistance Group also provided substantial assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of both Echefu and Simon-Ebo.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly O. Hayes, who is prosecuting the federal case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit and

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Updated March 5, 2024

Financial Fraud