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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Four Nigerian Nationals Sentenced in Bank Fraud, Fraudulent Passport Scheme

PROVIDENCE, RI – Four Nigerian nationals who admitted to participating in a large-scale bank fraud and counterfeit passport scheme in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with an intended loss of more than $1.2 million dollars, have been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.

The four men admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud banks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts by acquiring and altering lawfully passed checks between commercial entities. The checks were altered and deposited into bank accounts opened using aliases as forms of identification created for counterfeit passports from Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa. Funds were quickly removed from the accounts prior to the fraud being detected by the financial institutions.

According to information presented to the Court, participants in the scheme deposited fraudulent checks and wires totaling approximately $1,267,000 and successfully obtained approximately $487,000 through withdrawals and debit purchases.

On Friday, Babajide O. Awogbami, 35, who has been detained in federal custody since April 10, 2017, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith to 13 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $488,745.47 restitution to banks he defrauded. He pleaded guilty on November 11, 2018, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and false use of passports.

On July 27, 2018, Olugboyega A. Fasanya, 37, of Woonsocket, and Anthony C. Ezike, 37, of Pawtucket, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith to 13 months in federal prison. Fasanya, who pleaded guilty on April 30, 2018, to conspiracy to commit bank, was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $379,362 to banks he defrauded. Ezike, who pleaded guilty on March 8, 2018, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $228,730 to banks he defrauded.

On February 16, 2018, Opeyemi A. Orekan, 28, of North Providence, who had been detained in federal custody since April 10, 2017, was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay $101,286.63 in restitution to banks he defrauded during his participation in the conspiracy. He pleaded guilty on September 22, 2017, to bank fraud and fraudulent use of passports.

According to court records, Olugboyega A. Fasanya and Opeyemi A. Orekan have been deported.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers have been issued against Babajide O. Awogbami and Anthony C. Ezike. Both men will face deportation proceedings upon completion of their terms of incarceration.

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lee H. Vilker.

The matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Woonsocket, Pawtucket, and Warwick Police Departments.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
19-15
Updated February 19, 2019