Nigerian sentenced to 10 years in US for romance Fraud, BEC schemes

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A Nigerian was sentenced on Monday to 10-year and one-month prison sentence, along with an order to pay restitution exceeding $1.46 million, for participating in money laundering connected to internet fraud schemes.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in its statement, reported that court documents and trial evidence unveiled the involvement of Olugbenga Lawal, 33, from Indianapolis, Indiana, who collaborated with the Nigeria-based leader of an international criminal organization.

This group engaged in defrauding individuals and businesses across the United States, amassing millions of dollars through various internet-based fraud schemes, including romance fraud and business email compromise schemes.

The organization primarily targeted elderly victims who believed they were romantically involved with individuals they encountered online. Lawal played a pivotal role in laundering the illicit proceeds, amounting to millions of dollars, generated from these fraudulent schemes.

From January 2019 to June 2020, the bank accounts associated with Lawal and his co-conspirators, instrumental in money laundering for the criminal organization, received substantial sums directly linked to individuals and businesses victimized by internet fraud.

Lawal oversaw deposits exceeding $3.6 million into accounts under his control during the period, distributing funds across seven different bank accounts registered in his name or under his business entity, Luxe Logistics LLC. He maintained control over accounts at multiple financial institutions, facilitating the money laundering process.

Moreover, Lawal was involved in money laundering for the criminal organization, converting the fraudulently obtained dollars deposited in his accounts into Nigerian currency, making them accessible in Nigeria. He participated in import/export transactions, including the shipment of cars to Nigeria, and engaged in currency exchange business transactions to facilitate the repatriation of the organization’s fraud proceeds back to Nigeria.

On August 10, 2023, Lawal was convicted by a federal jury for conspiring to commit money laundering. Three co-conspirators, Michael Hermann, Rita Assane, and Dwight Baines, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.