Nigerian National Sentenced for Fraud Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin
MADISON, WIS. - Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Emmanuel Odiah, 33, a citizen of Nigeria, most recently of Dallas, Texas, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 54 months in federal prison for money laundering in connection with a wire-fraud scheme. Odiah pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on January 15, 2020.
While in the United States on a Visa, Odiah laundered money for a network of individuals perpetrating computer-based fraud schemes in Nigeria and Ghana. This network defrauded victims throughout the United States out of money through a variety of schemes, including romance fraud. Odiah’s role was to help collect, conceal, and redirect that money using bank accounts he maintained under two fake identities in the United States. He was able to keep a percentage of the fraud proceeds as a fee for his assistance.
“Odiah participated in a scheme that manipulated elderly and other vulnerable individuals with a total disregard for the financial and emotional devastation it caused,” said U.S. Attorney Blader. “Bringing those who prey on our seniors to justice is a top priority of my office.”
“Let this sentence serve as a reminder that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will continue to aggressively investigate charlatans who prey on the vulnerable to perpetuate financial crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, HSI Chicago. “These type of crimes have devastating effects on the victims and our financial institutions. This close coordination with our law enforcement and judicial partners is essential to bring these criminals to justice.”
As part of the scheme, Odiah opened and maintained seven U.S. bank accounts to launder fraud proceeds. He opened these accounts using fraudulent passports in the names “James Princeton” and “Ryan Greg Mornson.” Between 2017 and 2019, more than $600,000 in fraud proceeds were deposited into these accounts. Once money was deposited, Odiah, posing as Princeton and Mornson, used a series of smaller, less conspicuous financial transactions to distribute fraud proceeds to those perpetrating the fraud schemes overseas.
In announcing the sentence, the Court found that although Odiah’s role in the charged scheme was limited to money laundering, Odiah was aware that the money being deposited into his bank accounts was from vulnerable people being defrauded. Judge Conley also considered the tremendous psychological and financial devastation to victims caused by romance fraud and other computer-based fraud schemes.
The charges against Odiah were the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Home Security Investigations and the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith P. Duchemin.
Updated May 21, 2020