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Press Release

Texas Man Pleads Guilty For Facilitating Multi-Million Dollar Financial Fraud Schemes And Operating An Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
The Defendant Admitted to Laundering the Illegal Proceeds of Business Email Compromise Schemes and Online Romance Scams that Targeted Elderly Victims

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Emmanuel Unuigbe, 41, of Dallas, Texas, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan C. Rodriguez today and pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Robert M. DeWitt, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina joins U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to court documents and today’s plea hearing, from 2018 to 2023, Unuigbe conspired with other individuals in the United States and overseas to launder millions of dollars of illegal proceeds obtained through extensive financial criminal activity. As Unuigbe admitted in court today, he created Stage 23 Konsult LLC (Stage 23) that claimed to be, among other things, a transportation business. In reality, the majority of Stage 23’s business was related to money laundering and the unlawful money transmitting of criminal proceeds.

According to court records, Unuigbe and his co-conspirators engaged in two separate but related conspiracies. The first, a conspiracy to commit money laundering, involved engaging in financial transactions involving the proceeds of various fraudulent schemes. This included online romance scams, in which co-conspirators contacted victims, most of whom were elderly, through various online dating and social media sites, and convinced those victims to transfer funds to bank accounts under the control of Unuigbe, Stage 23, and others. It also included laundering the proceeds of Business Email Compromise schemes, or BECs, which often target businesses involved in wire transfer payments. As Unuigbe admitted in court today, as part of this conspiracy, businesses were tricked into wiring legitimate payments into bank accounts controlled by Unuigbe and other co-conspirators. Once the fraud proceeds of the romance and the BEC scams were received, Unuigbe and other individuals rapidly depleted the accounts through multiple withdrawals and transfers into other accounts, including overseas accounts.

According to filed court documents, Unuigbe and his co-conspirators earned compensation by keeping a percentage of fraudulent proceeds obtained through the schemes. They also earned compensation by conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, whereby he and his co-conspirators agreed to “pay” for the domestic deposits received by others by transferring Nigerian Naria from accounts the co-conspirators controlled in Nigeria to other accounts in Nigeria, based upon a “black market” exchange rate for United States Dollars to Naira.

Unuigbe is in federal custody. The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The charge of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business has a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI for their investigation of the case, which is ongoing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Ryan with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated December 20, 2023

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud