Federal Grand Jury in Austin Indicts Nigerian Citizen for Victimizing Previous Fraud Victims
Defendant Fraudulently Claimed to be a Representative of the Texas State Securities Board
A federal grand jury in Austin indicted a Nigerian citizen for masquerading as a representative of the Texas State Securities Board to steal money from victims of a previous fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the FBI’s San Antonio Division, and Texas State Securities Board Commissioner Travis J. Iles.
The grand jury indictment, returned yesterday, charges 27–year-old Ekeoma Jerry Onyeukwu (aka “Jerry Ekeoma Onyeukwu”) with two counts of wire fraud.
The Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) is a state agency whose mission is to protect Texas investors, including by regulating securities and enforcing the Texas Securities Act. In early 2018, an England-based cryptocurrency exchange called BitConnect shut down following a cease and desist order from the TSSB. According to the indictment, from November 2018 through April 2019, fictitious websites similar to that of TSSB including “ssb-texas.us” and “ssb-tesax.us” were created to falsely claim that TSSB controlled BitConnect and that TSSB was going to return a portion of the losses incurred by BitConnect victims and encouraged them to sign up. Onyeukwu, subsequently, sent emails to Texas residents falsely presenting himself as a TSSB representative who could provide clients with refunds of 35% of money invested in BitConnect in exchange for a $300 “consent fee.” Onyeukwu led investors to believe that their $300 fee was going to TSSB, but in reality, Onyeukwu was pocketing the cash.
The FBI together with the TSSB are investigating this case. An arrest warrant has been issued for Onyeukwu. Upon conviction, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neeraj Gupta is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.