Benard Okorhi jailed in U.S. for fraud

Benard Okorhi jailed in U.S. for fraud

Nigerian, Benard Emurhowhoariogho Okorhi has been sentenced to serve 75 months in U.S. federal prison for his role in an international fraud conspiracy.

Okorhi, 42, is the 11th member of the fraud gang to be jailed. He was initially living in Ghana, operating a business known as Coolben Royal Links LTD.

His gang used compromised email accounts to steal from businesses and romance scams on internet dating sites to trick individuals into wiring money overseas.

The scheme was estimated to have cost residents of the U.S. approximately $8 million dollars.

The total scheme was estimated to have netted over $10 million worldwide during criminal enterprise’s five-year lifespan.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Murphy Jr., announced the sentence on Wednesday.

Evidence presented in a Memphis, Tennessee court revealed that Okorhi and others, some U.S. citizens, some residents of Ghana and Nigeria–created fake profiles on online dating services to entice people looking for companionship into fraudulent relationships.

Once the victim was fully involved, the scammers would develop elaborate storylines that always required the victim to send financial assistance to his or her beloved.

The group also compromised the email networks of many businesses, redirecting wires intended to pay for services or goods to bank accounts under the control of the scammers.

The money was subsequently moved through a number of bank accounts before ultimately being sent to Africa.

Okorhi, Maxwell Peter, and Babatunde Martins were arrested overseas and extradited to the United States for prosecution.

Okorhi was extradited from Canada in 2018.

Several of their alleged co-conspirators remain at large, including Dennis Miah, Sumaila Hardi Wumpini and Okorhi’s brother Victor Daniel Fortune Okorhi.

Ayodeji Ojo has been arrested in Nigeria and is awaiting extradition.

On June 11, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman sentenced Okorhi to 75 months in federal prison.

The following individuals have been found guilty by a jury or entered pleas of guilty for their part in the scheme:

Babatunde Martins of Nigeria, time served (approximately 3 and a half years);

Maxwell Peter of Ghana, 55 months;

Olufolajimi Abegunde of Atlanta and Nigeria, 78 months;

Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso of California and Mexico, 31 months;

Rashid Abdulai of New York and Ghana, 12 months;

Dana Brady of Washington, two years’ supervised release;

James Dean of Indiana, two years’ probation;

Marie Zamora of Utah, two years’ probation;

Edchae Caffey, 18 months’ probation; and Ahmed Alimi, 14 months’ probation.

The FBI led the investigation.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, as well as the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Accra, the FBI Transnational Organized Crime of the Eastern Hemisphere Section of the Criminal Investigative Division, the FBI’s Major Cyber Crimes Unit of the Cyber Division, and FBI’s International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center all provided significant support in the case.

U.S. Marshals Service, INTERPOL Washington, the INTERPOL Unit of the Ghana Police Service, the Republic of Ghana’s Office of Attorney General, and Ghana’s Economic and Organized Crime Office, also assisted in the investigation.