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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 6, 2015

NIGERIAN NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD CHARGES IN INTERNATIONAL CONSPIRACY CASE

 

Gulfport, Miss – Teslim Olarewaju Kiriji, 30, a Nigerian national and one of eighteen defendants indicted in a nine-count federal indictment filed in the Southern District of Mississippi, entered a guilty plea today before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to conspiracy to commit laundering of monetary instruments, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis.

Kiriji faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved. Kiriji admitted to being part of an international organization involved in multiple on-line fraud schemes which included the use of victims’ personal identification, banking and credit information.

The indictment alleges that a West African transnational organized criminal enterprise was involved in numerous complex financial fraud schemes over the internet. This mass marketing fraud included romance scams, reshipping 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 ("HSI") agents in Gulfport after U.S. law enforcement officers were contacted by a female victim 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 in this case 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 February 6, 2015