27th September, 2021
A total of 33 Nigerians have been indicted by Federal grand juries in the Northern and Eastern districts of Texas for defrauding elderly victims in romance schemes.
One of the Nigerians, 51 year-old Irabor Fatarr Musa was indicted by the two districts.
According to acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah, 11 Nigerians were indicted by the Department of Justice northern district, all arrested during a large-scale operation last Wednesday morning.
They have been charged with a variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
The majority of the defendants charged in this investigation have ties to a transnational organized crime syndicate originating in Nigeria, law enforcement revealed at the weekend.
According to court documents, the Nigerians preyed on elderly victims, many of whom were widowed or divorced.
They assumed fake names and trolled dating sites like Match.com, ChistianMingle, JSwipe, and PlentyofFish, searching for targets.
Once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they allegedly concocted sob-stories about why they needed money – i.e., taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc.
They then siphoned money from victim’s accounts, tens of thousands of dollars at a time.
“Crimes like these are especially despicable because they rely not only on victims’ lack of internet savvy, but also, their isolation, their loneliness, and sometimes their grief.
“As the victims open their hearts, the perpetrators open their wallets,” Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said at a press conference announcing the charges.
“The only mistake these victims make is being generous to the wrong people.”
“The crimes allegedly committed by these defendants hit close to home. Your neighbours, parents, friends and family would be targets of this organization.
“The fraudsters intimidated and berated their victims, ruined their lives, really, and then disappeared,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno.
“We’re confident this investigation will have a significant impact on this region and beyond.”
The indictments unsealed today in the Northern District of Texas complement a related indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of Texas, which charges 23 defendants (including one also charged in the Northern District of Texas) with a variety of financial crimes.
Those charged in the Northern District of Texas include:
*David Animashaun, 38 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy
*Oluwalobamise Michael Moses, 40 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy
*Irabor Fatarr Musa, 51 – arrested in the Eastern District of Texas, charged by the Northern District of Texas wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
*Ijeoma Okoro, 31 – arrested in DFW, wire fraud conspiracy fraud, money laundering conspiracy
*Chukwemeka Orji, 36 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
*Emanuel Stanley Orji, 35 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy
*Frederick Orji, 37 – arrested in Dallas, charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
*Uwadiale Esezobor, 36 – arrested in Lubbock, charged with mail & wire fraud conspiracy
*Victor Idowu, 36 – arrested in Los Angeles, charged with mail & wire fraud conspiracy
*Afeez Abiola Alao, 37 – wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
*Ambrose Sunday Ohide, 47 – wire fraud conspiracy
If convicted, the defendants face up 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud conspiracy counts and up to 10 years in federal prison on the money laundering conspiracy counts.
A federal grand jury in Sherman in the Eastern District of Texas has also indicted 23 other Nigerians for similar scams.
Indicted individuals that have been arrested include:
Kingsley Ita, aka “Baron” “Sifk,” 42, of Dallas;
Irabor Fatarr Musa, aka “Fatai” “Head JJ,” 51, of Richardson;
Solomon Esekheigbe, 48, of Katy;
Sandra Iribhogbe Popnen, aka “General,” 46, of Allen;
Edgal Iribhogbe, aka “Oseme,” 50, of Allen;
Damilola Kumapayi, aka “Luke Morris,” 33, of Dallas;
Ehiedu Onyeagwu, aka “Young,” 58, of Rosedale, Maryland;
Mathew Okpu, 57, of Temple Hille, Maryland;
Benedicta Atakare, 46, of Temple Hills, Maryland;
Segun Adeoye, 47, of Pearland;
Chidindu Okeke, aka “Steve,” 28, of Richmond;
Ngozi Okeke, 47, of Katy;
Nosoregbe Asemota, aka “Patrick Asemota,” 46, of Melissa;
Chigozi Ekwenugo, 53, of Grand Prairie;
Bukola Obaseki, 48, of Allen;
Stella Hadome, 43, of Allen;
Jequita Batchelor, 37, of Farmers Branch;
Osaretin Eghaghe, aka “Biggie,” 37, of Plano;
Ejiro Ohwovoriole, 29, of McKinney;
Isaac Asare, aka “Asarko,” 48, of Houston;
Gold Ude, 44, of Wylie;
Henrietha Oziegbe, 23, of Lexington, Kentucky; and
Kingsly Oziegbe, 25, of Edinburg.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Nicholas J. Ganjei announced the indictment
The indictment, returned on Sep. 8, 2021, charges the Nigerians with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. `
All the defendants have been arraigned.
“The criminal conduct alleged in this case is sophisticated in its means, expansive in its scope, and callous in its aims,” said Ganjei.
“The indictment alleges a scheme where all manner of fraud—including romance and investment scams—was unleashed on an unsuspecting American public, including the elderly and most vulnerable, with the ill-gotten gains syphoned off and funneled overseas.
“The amount of loss, both financial and emotional, alleged in this case is nothing short of staggering,” he said.
According to the indictment, beginning around January 2017, the defendants used a multitude of fraudulent schemes to obtain money from their victims, including online romance scams, business email compromise and investor fraud, and unemployment insurance fraud.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants not only coordinated how to extract money from their victims, but how to disguise, disburse, and launder that money once they successfully defrauded their victims.
Allegedly, the defendants obtained at least $17 million from at least 100 individual victims, companies, and government entities from across the world.
The defendants are alleged to have specifically targeted elderly persons and used various schemes such as online dating sites to lure their victims.
The indictment charges that once they fraudulently obtained funds from their victims, the defendants laundered the money through a network of various bank accounts and sent money to bank accounts, co-conspirators and businesses located in Africa and Asia.
In March 2020, the FBI similarly arrested 24 individuals, some of them Nigerians, running scams in Texas from Atlanta Georgia.