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Press Release

Nigerian National Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Uchenna Christian Nlemchi pleaded guilty in federal court to one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Nlemchi, 31, a Nigerian national, will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

A federal grand jury indicted Nlemchi on May 24, 2017. According to publicly available court records, in 2015, Nlemchi opened a bank account in Houston, Texas in the name of Jay Auto & Machine Parts, a fictional business, with the intent to siphon proceeds of political corruption in Nigeria to another individual in Nigeria. Between September 2015 and February 2016, Nlemchi received $868,295 into the account. Nlemchi withdrew approximately $167,000 in cash in person, $32,000 from ATMs, and transferred $75,000 to his personal bank account. Nlemchi transferred the rest of the money to various businesses and individuals at the direction of his co-conspirators.

In his plea agreement, Nlemchi admitted that he learned the money was procured through romance scams that his co-conspirators were running, not political corruption, and that by receiving the money, he facilitated the scams. 

Nlemchi was arrested on the indictment in June of 2017 and released on conditions pending trial. In Oct. of 2017, Nlemchi violated the conditions of his release, and an arrest warrant was issued. At that time, Nlemchi fled the country and was believed to have returned to his native Nigeria. The FBI pursued Nlemchi for five years before locating him in Hungary. Nlemchi was extradited to the United States and arrested on June 6, 2023.

The Albuquerque Division of the FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department during the extradition process. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Peña is prosecuting the case.



Updated February 5, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-55