Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Keechant L. Sewell, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging six defendants — SALIF NDAMA-TRAORE, KYLE EMORDI, KEITH EMORDI, AMADOU TIDIANE BA, MOHAMMED NABI ELIKPLIM AKINOTCHO, and IBRAHIM BOCOUM — with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a business email compromise (“BEC”) scheme that used spoofing attacks to deceive victims into sending a total of approximately $5.8 million to bank accounts that had been opened using fake and stolen information. All six defendants were arrested and will be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray in the Southern District of Texas. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Sitting behind their computer screens, the defendants and others used email spoofing to insert themselves into legitimate business transactions and deceived victims across the country into sending millions of dollars to fraudulent bank accounts. Thanks to the efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, the defendants now face the long arm of justice.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “As alleged, the defendants engaged in a business email compromise scheme in which they induced the victims to make fraudulent payments totaling more than $5 million. Additionally, in an attempt to conceal their actions, the defendants withdrew their ill-gotten gains in a manner intended to evade federal reporting requirements. As today’s action demonstrates, the FBI remains committed to bringing those who engage in fraudulent activity to justice.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said: “Business email compromise and money laundering schemes, although not violent, are not victimless and can be devastating to the organizations and individuals who fall prey to them. While the network of online criminals targeting unsuspecting victims is growing every day, today’s charges should send a clear message to scammers committing fraud – wherever they are based – that they will be identified and held fully accountable. The NYPD will continue to work tirelessly with all of our law enforcement partners to address this pervasive threat head-on.”
As alleged in the Indictment:
From July 2021 through February 2022, the defendants and others engaged in a fraudulent BEC scheme that involved impersonating legitimate business contacts by email to induce five victims — a hospital, a labor union, a law firm, a real estate closing company, and a logistics company — into remitting payments totaling approximately $5.8 million to fraudulent bank accounts. Each of the fraudulent bank accounts was opened shortly before the diversion of funds, and at least three accounts were opened using a fake driver’s license or stolen social security number. Internet protocol registration information also shows that the defendants logged into several of the fraudulent accounts online.
The funds were immediately moved from the fraudulent accounts to bank accounts held in the defendants’ own names or in the name of a defendant-owned company. The funds were then quickly transferred to additional savings or investment vehicles held in the defendants’ names, withdrawn in cash, or sent to co-defendants through ACH transfers or using a P2P payment service. Withdrawals were usually made in successive increments of less than $10,000 to avoid triggering federal reporting requirements. Some funds were pulled back after hitting the fraudulent accounts, resulting in the recovery of approximately $3.14 million and a total loss of approximately $2.66 million.
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NDAMA-TRAORE, 39, KYLE EMORDI, 26, KEITH EMORDI, 29, and BOCOUM, 32, all of Houston, Texas; AKINOTCHO, 33, of Cypress, Texas; and BA, 35, of Sugar Land, Texas, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which also carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California; the FBI Field Offices in Columbia (Hilton Head Resident Agency), Houston, and Sacramento; and the police departments of New York City, the City of Beaufort, and Houston for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Yumi Chong is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.