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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Fraud felony nets more than 12 years in prison

Career criminal committed latest felony while on supervised release for previous fraud conviction

SAVANNAH, Ga:  A man who has made a career of committing felony fraud will spend more than 12 years in federal prison for his role in attempting to defraud victims of nearly $2 million.

Uchechi Ohanaka, a/k/a “Mike,” 44, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 125 months in prison by U.S. District Court Senior Judge William T. Moore Jr. after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Judge Moore also sentenced Ohanaka to serve 24 additional months in prison for violating the terms of supervised release from a previous case.

After his release from the total of 149 months in prison, Ohanaka will serve five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

According to court documents and information presented in court proceedings, Ohanaka, a naturalized citizen, has engaged in decades of fraud since immigrating to the United States from Nigeria. He has two prior federal felony fraud-related convictions, including one for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft for which he was serving supervised release when the latest fraudulent activities occurred in 2017.

Ohanaka, working with others, gained access to victims’ bank account information and provided false identification to an individual who went into banks to impersonate wealthy customers. The scheme involved creating fictitious companies using the names of victims, setting up bank accounts linked to the victims’ accounts, and then withdrawing money from the unsuspecting victims’ accounts. A call in furtherance of the conspiracy took place in Savannah.

The U.S. Secret Service arrested Ohanaka on Dec. 5, 2017, after he provided fake identification and account information for an individual so that individual could use it to withdraw more than $200,000 from a victim’s bank account. At sentencing, the Court found Ohanaka responsible for more than $1.7 million in fraud.   

“To the victims of fraud, there is little difference between a mugging on the street or a theft using keystrokes on a computer,” said Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “Both cases rob the victim of their money, their dignity and their sense of security – and either type of theft will result, like this one, in the criminal facing real prison time.”

“Technology has forever changed the way we do business, making everyday financial transactions a prime target for fraud,” said Glen Kessler, Savannah Resident Office Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service. “The Secret Service, in conjunction with its many law enforcement partners, continues to successfully combat these crimes by adapting our investigative methodologies and educating the public.”

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Houston, Texas, Police Department, and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
For any questions, please contact Barry Paschal at the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (912) 652-4422.
Press Release Number: 
29-19
Updated March 14, 2019