Indiana Man Charged in SDTX with Laundering Proceeds of $7 Million International Investment Scam Through Used Car Dealership
HOUSTON - An Indiana man was arrested yesterday in Indianapolis in connection with allegations he laundered the proceeds of an international advance-fee scheme through a used-car dealership he owned and operated. The scam allegedly involved false promises of investment funding by individuals impersonating U.S. bank officials to victims around the world, who were told they had to make certain payments before they could supposedly receive their funding. In some cases, the perpetrators allegedly met with the victims at local U.S. embassies or consulates and fabricated U.S. government documents to make the victims believe the U.S. government was sponsoring the investment agreements. Proceeds of the scheme were allegedly laundered through U.S. bank accounts and diverted back to the scheme’s perpetrators in Nigeria.
U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick of the Southern District of Texas (SDTX), Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office and Inspector General Steve A. Linick of the U.S. Department of State made the announcement.
Tochukwu Nwosisi, 47, of Indianapolis, was charged in a superseding indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas with one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and one count of concealment money laundering. The superseding indictment includes charges against five other individuals who were previously charged in an indictment filed in February 2018 in connection with the same scheme. Nwosisi made his initial appearance yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.
According to the superseding indictment, Nwosisi owned and operated a used car dealership in Indianapolis called Indyrides LLC. As part of his alleged involvement in the conspiracy, Nwosisi received international and domestic wire transfers from victims of the advance-fee scheme into his business bank accounts. The victims were under the impression that such payments were necessary to receive their investment funding. Nwosisi allegedly used the victims’ payments to, among other things, pay himself a portion of the funds and purchase vehicles that he then shipped to the scheme’s perpetrators in Nigeria. As banks closed his accounts for suspicious activity, Nwosisi continued to open new bank accounts to receive payments from victims.
The FBI and Department of State - Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. SDTX Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorney William E. Johnston of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. SDTX AUSA Kristine Rollinson is handling the forfeiture matters.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.