Salt Lake City, Utah – Three foreign national men, living in Utah, were sentenced after pleading guilty to their participation in a four-person money laundering ring that aided and abetted the defrauding of more than a hundred victims, primarily widows.
On Thursday, February 9, 2023, David Oguoguo Okeke, 30, of Vineyard, Utah, was sentenced to 54 months imprisonment and 36 months supervised release, after pleading guilty to money laundering conspiracy. He was ordered to pay $2,219,802.97 in restitution. Upon release from imprisonment, Okeke will be remanded to the Federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation proceedings.
Additionally, according to court documents, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, Okeke’s codefendants Justin Akubueze, 30, and Abiemwense Valentine Obanor, 32, both formerly of Vineyard, Utah, were sentenced to 54 months and 74 months imprisonment, respectively. Each defendant was sentenced to 36 months supervised release and ordered to pay $219,802.97 in restitution jointly with Okeke.
The purpose of the scheme was to obtain money by creating online profiles pretending to be a United States soldier, international businessmen, or some other seemingly attractive profile, and using those profiles to develop relationships with victims. After their associates were charged with similar crimes in a different case, (see press release here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ut/pr/eight-individuals-charged-fraud-scheme-targeting-widows-created-false-identities-feigned), Akubueze and Obanor left the United States. After a federal grand jury returned an indictment against them, they were extradited to the United States to face the charges against them.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute fraudsters who take advantage of victims, many of whom are elderly, on a fixed income and lose money intended to carry them throughout the rest of their life,” said U.S. Attorney, Trina A. Higgins, for the District of Utah. “Taking advantage of our most vulnerable population is unacceptable and with our law enforcement partners we are committed to investigating these crimes.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Carl D. Lesueur, for the District of Utah prosecuted the case.