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Press Release

Nigerian Citizen Sentenced to 20 Years for International Conspiriacy to Commit Federal Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Mississippi


Gulfport, Miss – A Nigerian citizen arrested in Indiana, one of twenty-one defendants indicted in a nine-count federal indictment filed in the Southern District of Mississippi, was sentenced on Thursday, August 20, 2015, for his role in a conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis.

Teslim Olarewaju Kiriji, 30, of Lagos, Nigeria and Brownsburg, Indiana, was sentenced by United States District Judge Sul Ozerden to 240 months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and serve three years of post-release supervision. Kiriji admitted to being part of an international organization involved in multiple on-line fraud schemes that included the use of victim’s personal identification, banking and credit information. Testimony presented showed Kiriji was involved in the use and distribution of victims’ personal, bank and credit card information beginning in at least 2004 and continuing to his May 2014 arrest. Evidence presented at sentencing supported $50,000,000 in intended losses through counterfeit check schemes and account take-over schemes by the conspiracy.

The indictment in this case alleges a West African transnational organized crime enterprise involved in numerous complex financial fraud schemes over the internet. This mass marketing fraud includes romance scams, re-shipping scams, fraudulent check scams and work-at-home scams, along with bank, financial and credit card account take-overs.

The investigation was initiated in October, 2011, by Homeland Security Investigations agents in Gulfport after U.S. law enforcement officers were contacted by a woman in Mississippi who was the victim of a sweetheart scam. The victim received a package in the mail requesting that she reship the merchandise to an address in Pretoria, South Africa. The investigation later revealed that the merchandise was purchased using stolen personal identity information and fraudulent credit card information of persons in the United States. Investigators have identified thousands of victims of this scam in the United States, resulting in the loss of millions of U.S. dollars.

The indictment is the result of an investigation led by the HSI Gulfport office in partnership with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, South African Police Service, Toronto Police, HSI Cyber Crimes Center, Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture, HSI Ontario, HSI Charleston, Interpol South Africa, HSI Pretoria and HSI Atlanta.

The case in Mississippi is prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Annette Williams and Scott Gilbert along with Robert Tully of the Organized Crime Gang Section of the Department of Justice.

Updated August 21, 2015