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Press Release

California man sentenced for multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering schemes

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

HOUSTON – A 45-year-old Nigerian national has been ordered to federal prison for his participation in two separate schemes to defraud victim homeowners and a corporation and launder the proceeds of those frauds.  

Joseph Modile pleaded guilty Feb. 27, 2023, to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft filed in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and charges of money laundering and wire fraud filed in the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) and subsequently transferred to the EDNY.

U.S. District Judge Diane Gujarati has now ordered Modile to serve 145 months in prison. As part of the sentence, Modile was also ordered to pay more than $1.5 million each in restitution and forfeiture.

“Although Modile took part in a complicated scheme, involving a cadre of runners and a series of fake documents and bank accounts, his goal was simple - steal from unsuspecting victims,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani for the SDTX. “While his crimes stretched to all parts, from Brooklyn to Houston, thanks to the work of two U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Modile will spend several years in one place, a prison cell, no longer able to help fellow criminals prey on the innocent.”

“Modile checked all the boxes for a sophisticated fraud–stealing, deception, money laundering and identity theft. Today’s sentence checks the box for an appropriate penalty for his crimes of greed from Brooklyn to Texas,” stated U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the EDNY.  “I commend the prosecutors from my Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDTX and the special agents for their outstanding work unraveling Modile’s scheme.”

“Today’s sentencing is a positive step toward justice for Joseph Modile’s victims – homeowners, business owners and the everyday email users alike who were defrauded of over $15 million as a result of his sophisticated schemes. The defendant spearheaded at least three fraud schemes across the country and over the course of several years. His tactics, while sophisticated, were no match for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York’s El Dorado Task Force Cyber investigators,” stated HSI New York Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Erin Keegan. “I commend HSI New York, the New York City Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the EDNY and SDTX, as well as FBI Houston, for a job well done.”

“FBI Houston, along with our domestic and international law enforcement partners, led an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation on numerous prolific organized crime figures. Modile, for years, was an orchestrator of multi-million-dollar fraud schemes who stole from countless victims around the world,” stated FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Douglas Williams. “Dismantling large-scale criminal enterprises is what the FBI does, and Modile’s sentence should send a message to greedy criminals like him still out there, it’s just a matter of time before we get you too.”

In the SDTX case, from November 2017 until May 2018, Modile knowingly devised a scheme to defraud victims. Modile used his cellular phone to communicate with others about financial transactions for the purpose of executing his scheme. Modile directed an individual already convicted in Houston to withdraw cash from their bank account and provide it to others. Modile also directed the individual in Houston to lie to their financial institution regarding the reason for withdrawing money from their account. In February 2018, Modile orchestrated and directed a substantial amount of money into an account of the individual in Houston. The money derived from wire fraud, and Modile was aware the money came from unlawful activity.

In the case filed in the EDNY, from January 2014 and September 2018, Modile and others defrauded victims, businesses and financial institutions in the United States through a sophisticated home equity line of credit (HELOC) scheme involving a series of bank account takeovers. During this time, Modile and others also laundered proceeds from the bank account takeovers. In furtherance of the HELOC fraud scheme, Modile and others acquired personal identifying information (PII) of the actual holders of the targeted bank accounts at the financial institutions. The co-conspirators then used the PII to impersonate the actual holders of the targeted bank accounts, thereby gaining control of the accounts. In some cases, members of the conspiracy recruited “runners,” who impersonated the actual account holders inside bank branches using forged and fraudulent identification documents created at Modile’s direction. In most instances, the stolen funds were first deposited into fraudulent bank accounts co-conspirators set up and controlledin the names of the actual victims from whom the money had been stolen. In other cases, the bank accounts into which the stolen funds were first deposited were in the names of sham corporations, which were opened using false and fraudulent identification. In total, Modile and others stole at least $5 million as part of the HELOC fraud scheme.

In May 2018, Modile and others engaged in a separate business email compromise scheme using fraudulent emails and telephone calls to steal approximately $10.2 million from a victim company. The co-conspirators used a fraudulent email address to impersonate a contractor of an entity located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and directed representatives of that entity to deposit the funds in an account members of the conspiracy controlled. Modile and others then laundered those stolen funds through bank accounts that co-conspirators controlled. 

FBI and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.

This effort is part of an OCDETF operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Rodolfo Ramirez prosecuted the case along with EDNY AUSA David Pitluck. 

Updated March 11, 2024

Financial Fraud