Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging three defendants on federal prices of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit cash laundering, and aggravated identification theft:
Noel Chimezuru Agoha, age 37, of Baltimore, Maryland
Sessieu Ange Oulai, age 34, of Parkville, Maryland, and
Kelechi Arthur Ntibunka, age 32, of Essex, Maryland.
The indictment was returned on March 22, 2021, and was unsealed at this time. Agoha and Ntibunka have been arrested yesterday and had their preliminary appearances at this time. At at this time’s listening to, U.S. Justice of the Peace Choose Beth P. Gesner ordered that Agoha and Ntibunka be detained pending a detention listening to scheduled on Could 12, 2021. Oulai is at the moment detained on unrelated state prices and may have an preliminary look on the federal prices at a later date.
The indictment was introduced by Performing United States Lawyer for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Particular Agent in Cost James R. Mancuso of Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Particular Agent in Cost Edwin Guard of the Washington Subject Workplace of the U.S. Division of State’s Diplomatic Safety Service; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Division.
In keeping with the three-count indictment, from August 2016 to December 2018, the conspirators conspired with others to execute a enterprise electronic mail compromise rip-off (“BEC” rip-off) wherein the defendants despatched misleading emails to sufferer companies posing as purchasers or representatives of corporations with whom the victims had ongoing enterprise to induce cash from victims. The events being impersonated have been additionally victimized by the BEC rip-off as a result of the item of the fraud was to intercept funds meant for these events and/or to deprive these events of cash to which they have been entitled.
As a part of the scheme, “drop accounts” have been opened with monetary establishments and managed by the defendants and their co-conspirators, so as to obtain cash from victims of felony fraud schemes, together with the BEC rip-off, allegedly perpetrated by the defendants and their conspirators. Through the course of the conspiracy, Agoha transmitted the identification of at the least one BEC sufferer to a co-conspirator.
The indictment alleges that the conspirators created fraudulent electronic mail accounts that included or abbreviated the names of the BEC rip-off victims, or accessed the BEC victims’ electronic mail accounts with out authorization, so as to ship fraudulent emails impersonating the victims and to obtain info and funds with out the victims’ information or authorization. Conspirators despatched emails and made telephone calls to the BEC victims requesting and instructing the victims to make digital transfers and funds of cash into the drop accounts, with out the information or authorization of the victims being impersonated. Agoha, Oulai, Ntibunka, and different conspirators allegedly monitored drop account exercise (deposits, transfers, and balances), relayed info, and supplied instruction about transactions to co-conspirators by way of textual content messages. In complete, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly acquired, or tried to obtain, greater than $1.1 million in proceeds from BEC scams.
The indictment additional alleges that from Could 2016 to July 2018, Agoha conspired with others to execute a relationship rip-off. As detailed within the indictment, members of the conspiracy communicated with particular person victims on relationship web sites and created a false pretense of a romantic relationship with the victims to coax the victims to ship cash. The conspirators allegedly used widespread relationship rip-off techniques, together with claiming fictious monetary hardships and crises so as to persuade victims to switch funds to the drop accounts. As a part of the conspiracy, Agoha allegedly supplied drop account info to co-conspirators to relay to relationship victims together with routing numbers, account numbers, and the identify of the account holder. The indictment alleges that Agoha and his co-conspirators accrued greater than $1.2 million in relationship rip-off proceeds.
Lastly, the indictment alleges that Agoha, Oulai, and Ntibunka conspired to launder proceeds from the relationship and BEC scams so as to conceal the supply of the funds. Particularly, the defendants allegedly negotiated funds for his or her roles in conducting drop account transactions, transferred and disbursed cash acquired from the scams into different accounts, withdrew money, and negotiated financial institution checks made payable to themselves and others.
If convicted, the defendants face a most sentence of 30 years in federal jail for conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting monetary establishments and a most of 20 years in federal jail for conspiracy to commit cash laundering. As well as, Agoha faces a compulsory sentence of two years in federal jail, consecutive to another sentence imposed, for aggravated identification theft. Precise sentences for federal crimes are usually lower than the utmost penalties. A federal district court docket choose will decide any sentence after making an allowance for the U.S. Sentencing Tips and different statutory elements.
An indictment is just not a discovering of guilt. People charged by indictment are presumed harmless until and till confirmed responsible at some later felony proceedings.
Performing United States Lawyer Jonathan F. Lenzner recommended HSI, the Diplomatic Safety Service, and the Baltimore Police Division for his or her work within the investigation and thanked the Florida Division of Legislation Enforcement for its help. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Lawyer Matthew J. Maddox, who’s prosecuting this case.
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