NIGERIAN MAN SENTENCED FOR MAIL FRAUD AGAINST A DICKINSON, NORTH DAKOTA COMPANY
BISMARCK – United States Attorney Mac Schneider announced that on February 23, 2023, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel M. Traynor sentenced Kolawole Bamidele Akande, age 37, from Nigeria, to serve 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $348,000 in restitution for committing the offense of Mail Fraud against a company located in Dickinson, North Dakota. On September 5, 2021, the defendant was arrested in the United Kingdom on this charge. Thereafter, on April 9, 2022, Akande was extradited from the United Kingdom to the District of North Dakota. On November 8, 2022, the defendant pleaded guilty to Mail Fraud.
While living in Dallas, Texas, Akande, as well as other codefendants, fraudulently obtained checks from a Dickinson, North Dakota, company through the mail and deposited these checks in fraudulent accounts at financial institutions located within the State of Texas. The Dickinson company was the victim of a computer intrusion scam that tricked the company’s controller into issuing checks totaling $348,000, which were deposited by Akande and codefendant Olawale Sule. This computer intrusion scheme caused the Dickinson company to sustain a loss of $298,000.
As part of this scheme to defraud, in November 2018, Akande used a fraudulent United Kingdom passport containing the fictitious name “Patric Elis Ferguson” to open a bank account at a Dallas, Texas, branch of Bank of America. On March 27, 2019, the controller of the Dickinson company received emails appearing to come from the company’s principal owners. The emails instructed the controller to mail a $192,000 check to an address in Dallas, Texas, payable to “Patel Retail and Logistics.” The controller sent, via overnight United Parcel Service (UPS) mail, the $192,000 check to the Dallas, Texas, address requested in the email. On March 28, 2019, Akande deposited the $192,000 check made payable to “Patel Retail and Logistics” into the Bank of America account that he had opened utilizing the fictitious name of “Patric Elis Ferguson.” Shortly thereafter, Akande either withdrew or transferred the funds to conceal and disguise their nature, location, source, and ownership.
Law enforcement conducted an investigation, which revealed that the Dickinson company was a victim of computer intrusion. Specifically, an unknown individual obtained access to the company’s principal owners’ Outlook 365 email accounts and sent the emails to the company’s controller directing the controller to mail the check to “Patel Retail and Logistics.”
The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota previously sentenced:
- Co-Defendant Olawale Sule a/k/a Brand King Mohammed, a/k/a John Thomas, on February 17, 2021, to serve two years’ imprisonment and payment of restitution on a charge of Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud.
- Co-Defendant Oluwafemi Elijah Olasode, on September 7, 2021, to time served imprisonment and payment of restitution on a charge of Misprision of Felony.
“Too often, swindlers believe they can evade justice because they are behind a computer or operating internationally,” Schneider said. “This sentence shows they should think again. This outcome is a credit to the skilled law enforcement investigators and prosecutors who patiently saw this case through.”
Link for Prior Press Release Unsealing the Indictment and Announcing Akande’s extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States are located below:
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; United States Postal Inspection Service; Homeland Security Investigations; United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District and Eastern District of Texas; and by the Office of International Affairs, Department of Justice, assisting with securing the extradition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan J. O’Konek prosecuted this case.