Nigerian Nationals Sentenced for Role in Money Laundering Conspiracy
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge sentenced two Nigerian nationals yesterday for their role in an international money laundering conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna M. Manasco sentenced Paulinus Ebhodaghe, 40, of Clementon, New Jersey to 46 months in prison. Ebhodaghe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in September 2021. Ohimai Asikhia, 37, of Glassboro, New Jersey, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Asikhia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering in March 2021.
“The defendants helped cybercriminals obscure the source of their ill-gotten gains and squirrel away fraud proceeds in overseas accounts,” U.S. Attorney Escalona said. “Citizens are urged to carefully scrutinize any email directing the transfer of money via wire. I would like to thank the FBI for their hard work in tracking down and bringing these defendants to justice.”
“Business email compromise is one of the most financially damaging online crimes,” SAC Sharp said. It exploits the fact that so many of us rely on email to conduct business—both personal and professional. If you or your company fall victim to BEC, it’s important that you act quickly and notify your financial institution. Then, immediately file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.ic3.gov.”
According to court documents, from June 2018 through November 2018, Ebhodaghe and Asikhia helped launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud proceeds. During the course of the conspiracy, they would receive wire transfers from business email compromise, romance scam, and other fraud victims; move the fraud proceeds between bank accounts to disguise their origin and conceal their fraudulent nature; and then wire the proceeds to bank accounts in Nigeria or use them to purchase automobiles that were shipped overseas. Ebhodaghe and Asikhia typically received fees of twenty percent or more of the funds that they laundered.
The FBI investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Canter.