Nigerian Business E-mail Scammer Sentenced for Fraud
United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Pelumi Fawehinmi, age 38, of Nigeria, was sentenced Friday, March 22, 2019, for Wire Fraud. United States District Court Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr., sentenced Fawehinmi to a 72-month term of imprisonment. After his release from prison, Fawehinmi will begin a 3-year term of supervised release. The restitution amount is to be determined and will be ordered at a later date.
Fawehinmi was a key part of a scheme commonly referred to as business e-mail compromise. Fawehinmi provided bank accounts to other co-conspirators who were working directly with businesses to defraud them. In this scheme, co-conspirators used compromised e-mail accounts to send spoofed e-mails to thousands of business employees across the United States who had accounting responsibilities, to include authorizing and sending wire transfers. A spoofed e-mail is one in which the e-mail appears to be originating from a sender other than the person who is truly the sender. Fawehinmi’s co-conspirators posed as Chief Executive Officers or other business executives and would direct recipients of the spoofed e-mails to complete wire transfers. The business employees, thinking that the wire transfer requests were legitimate, would comply with the wire transfer requests and wire money to the location designated in the written instructions. One of Fawehinmi’s co-conspirators, Adewale Aniyeloye, was sentenced to 96 months by Judge Rossiter in February of 2019.
The scheme was primarily conducted from Nigeria where Fawehinmi was living. In 2017, investigators learned Fawehinmi was planning to travel to the United States. He was arrested upon his arrival in New York. Pursuant to this scheme, businesses, including businesses in the District of Nebraska, lost more than $6 million. The attempted losses pursuant to the scheme are more than $30 million. The two Nebraska victims of the fraud scheme lost approximately $163,230.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.