A Nigerian woman was on Wednesday convicted by a federal jury in US District Court, Georgia for conspiring to commit money laundering.
Gloria Ifem Okolie, 39, helped steal nearly a quarter-million dollars from an Augusta attorney faces up to 20 years in prison after being found guilty in a jury trial.
Okolie was found guilty on Wednesday, May 15, of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering as a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Augusta began the second day of deliberations. She was acquitted of a second charge in the case, Wire Fraud.
A date for sentencing has not yet bet set.
According to court documents and testimony during the trial, Okolie, along with former co-defendant Paul Wilson Aisosa – who previously pleaded guilty to money laundering – participated in a scheme to steal $246,218.83 from an Augusta attorney who was deceived into rerouting the proceeds from the sale of a West Lake home.
FBI agent Robert Stewart testified in court on Tuesday as the prosecution’s last witness, saying that many cases are dead ends because they originate in Nigeria and other countries.
An email opened in Nigeria was used by a hacker to send an email to a US lawyer on August 10, 2015 claiming to be the seller of a West Lake home.
The imposter convinced the attorney to send $246,219 to a Dallas bank account that Okolie opened a month earlier.
Okolie admitted on Tuesday that she opened the bank account and a second one in July 2015.
She said she transferred the money to various locations on the instruction of her lover, Kenny, whom she claimed deals in selling vehicles to customers in Nigeria.
Okolie said she did not know it was all a fraud until she was arrested.
Assistant US Attorney Hank Syms told the court that Okolie was paid more than $18,000 in one month for moving the money.
Okolie’s co-defendant, Paul Aisosa, testified that he committed money laundering several times, and had cheated people of over $550,000.
Stewart, however, said that police had tracked the mystery man named Kenny to a man called Akena who is held by immigration for deportation in November.
“Complex international cases involving cyber fraud and banking manipulation are still, in the end, just old-fashioned theft,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine.
“And just like any other theft, our job is to work with our law enforcement partners to bring these thieves to justice and shut down the avenues by which they enrich themselves at the expense of honest people.”
According to Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta,
“Okolie was part of an elaborate plan of deception to steal money from an unsuspecting victim through an email scam.
“The FBI is committed to working with our international partners to crack down on these fraud schemes and reminds businesses to be diligently alert to potential email compromises.”
Thomas J. Holloman III, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office, said:
“Today’s conviction is a direct result of the excellent partnership IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s office has in combating violations of federal law.
“This conviction should serve as a deterrent to those who might contemplate similar fraudulent actions.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Rhodes and Hank Syms.