Nigerian Man Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Participating In Business Email Compromise Scams
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that DAVID CHUKWUNEKE ADINDU pled guilty this morning before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty in Manhattan federal court to a superseding Information that charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to use a means of identification in connection with a federal crime. These charges stemmed from ADINDU’s participation in fraudulent business email compromise scams that targeted thousands of victims around the world, including the United States. Collectively, the scams attempted to defraud victims of millions of dollars.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As he has now admitted, David Chukwuneke Adindu participated in thousands of business email compromise scams, trying to trick various businesses into wiring millions of dollars to his overseas bank accounts. Cyber is increasingly becoming a powerful tool for criminals, including those like Adindu who indiscriminately target businesses around the world with scams. We are committed to tracking down and holding these cyber fraudsters accountable.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Adindu targeted his victims from afar, but the pain he likely inflicted upon them hit too close to home. Most people assume they won't become a victim of a business email scam, but this case should remind the public that everyone is at risk. Today's guilty plea is yet another example of our efforts to confront cyber crime worldwide.”
According to the Information and statements made at public court proceedings:
Between 2014 and 2016, ADINDU participated in Business Email Compromise scams (“BEC scams”) targeting thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States. As part of the BEC scams, emails were sent to employees of various companies directing that funds be transferred to specified bank accounts. The emails purported to be from supervisors at those companies or third party vendors that did business with those companies. The emails, however, were not legitimate. Rather, they were either from email accounts with a domain name that was very similar to a legitimate domain name, or the metadata in the emails had been modified so that the emails appeared as if they were from legitimate email addresses. After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts. In total, the BEC scams attempted to defraud millions of dollars from victims.
ADINDU and others carried out BEC scams by exchanging information regarding: (1) bank accounts used for receiving funds from victims; (2) email accounts for communicating with victims; (3) scripts for requesting wire transfers from victims; and (4) lists of names and email addresses for contacting and impersonating potential victims.
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ADINDU, 29, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Guangzhou, China, was arrested on November 22, 2016. ADINDU pled guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to use a means of identification in connection with a federal crime, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
ADINDU is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Crotty on September 26, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the FBI. Mr. Kim also thanked the Yahoo! E-Crime Investigations Team, and noted that the investigation is continuing.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew K. Chan is in charge of the prosecution.