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US Court jails Nigerian, American accomplice over $10m wire fraud

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A Federal Court in Houston, Texas in the United States of America (USA) has sentenced a Nigerian man, Hammed Akinola, to 15 years imprisonment over a $10 million fraud.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner also sentenced Akinola’s accomplice, a 53-year-old American, James Campbell, to 90 months in prison.

According to a press release by the US Justice Department, the judge handed the sentence on April 12, after both men pleaded guilty.

They were found to have taken or attempted to take large sums of money from roughly 45 victims, who thought they were sending their money to a title company to close on a home.

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Unknown to them, the money was fraudulently being transferred to a bank in Houston controlled by the defendants.

Judge Hittner noted that the defendants “ruined many Americans’ lives”, while the banks took a large hit as well.

Both have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted the investigation.

From January 2016 through November 2017, Campbell and Akinola were involved in an international wire fraud conspiracy that consisted primarily of Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud which targeted businesses and individuals that regularly perform wire transfer payments.

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They compromised legitimate business e-mail accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds by international co-conspirators.

The international co-conspirators hacked into the victims’ accounts and sent what appeared to the victims to be legitimate emails from banks or title companies.

The victims, tricked into thinking such emails were from the bank or title companies, would then transfer the money to the accounts the defendants controlled, not knowing they were fraudulent emails.

Akinola was working with overseas conspirators who were orchestrating the BEC victimization.

Those conspirators needed domestic bank accounts where they could send the funds stolen from the BEC fraud.

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Akinola and Campbell agreed to work together to open bank accounts and to recruit individuals in and around the Houston area to open bank accounts in order to receive the BEC wires.

Campbell and Akinola then recruited 20 other individuals who did open bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds.

The proceeds of the fraud scheme were disbursed between the account holders, Campbell, Akinola and international accomplices.

 

Crime

Hushpuppi: Protesters storm US Embassy, demand Atiku, Dino Melaye’s arrest (Photos)

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Some Protesters on Monday took to the US Embassy, Abuja, demanding an investigation into the link between ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Timi Frank and some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains with Raymond Abbas Igbalode, popularly known as Hushpuppi.

The group, under the aegis of Concerned Citizens Forum (CCF), seen in their numbers held placards calling for the arrest of Atiku, Melaye and other PDP members linked to the fraudster.

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Some inscriptions from the placards read: “Say No to fraud, Interpol act now”, Interpol act and arrest Dino Melaye”, “Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”, “FBI should investigate Atiku Abubakar,” amongst others.

They also submitted a letter to the US Ambassador and the Federal Bureau of Investigation calling for a thorough probe of Hushpuppi’s political allies in the PDP.

This is coming after the All Progressives Congress (APC) had alleged “criminal conspiracy linking the top PDP members to Hushpuppi.

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The protesters submitted a letter signed by Comrade Adamu Kabir Matazu.

In the letter, Matazu called on the US to investigate the connection between PDP high profile Chieftains and Hushpuppi.

The group claimed that ex-Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s frequent trips to Dubai prior to 2019 presidential elections may not be unconnected to Hushpuppi.

They asked the US to go after Atiku, Dino Melaye, Timi Frank and other PDP stalwarts who through their associations with Hushpuppi may have helped to launder the proceeds of crime.

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Recall that Bukola Saraki and Atiku over the weekend had denied any connection to Hushpuppi.

Atiku described the allegations as mischievous and an attempt at political blackmail by the APC, adding that the picture with Hushpuppi was not a meeting.

See photos from the protest below:

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Crime

Man, 34, arraigned over alleged fraud

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A 34-year-old man, Uchi Enyi, was on Monday brought before an Ogbeson Magistrates’ Court in Benin City for allegedly obtaining N24,000 under false pretences.

The defendant is being tried on two charges of obtaining goods under false pretences and stealing.

The Prosecutor, Insp. Charity Asemota told the court that the defendant committed the offences sometime in December 2019 along the Benin-Agbor Road, Ikpoba-Hill, Benin City.

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Asemota said that the defendant fraudulently obtained N24,000 under false pretences that he would make some doors and windows for Philip Umeh Company Limited, knowing same to be false.

Asemota said that the offences contravened Sections 419 and 390(9) of the Criminal Code Cap. 48 Vol. 11 Law of the defunct Bendel State of Nigeria, 1976; now applicable in Edo.

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The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts.

The Chief Magistrate, Prince Mutairu Oare, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N20,000 with one surety in like sum.

Oare said that the surety must be residing within the jurisdiction of the court and his address must be verified by the court registrar.

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He adjourned the case until July 22 for further hearing.

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Crime

Niger: One dies, two arrested for scooping petroleum products

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The Police Command in Niger has arrested two persons suspected to be involved in the scooping of petroleum products from a vandalised pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at Gwacipe village in Gurara Local Government Area of the state.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Adamu Usman, disclosed this to newsmen in Minna on Monday.

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Usman said that one Abu Shehu of Gwacipa village was scooping petroleum product from the dugout pit and that in the process, he became unconscious in the excavated hole.

“The suspect was taken to the Federal Medical Centre, Gawu Babangida, where he was confirmed dead by medical personnel and the corpse was deposited at Umaru Yar’Adua Hospital, Sabon Wuse.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that the deceased conspired with one Ibrahim Musa and Sani Musa all of Gwacipe village in Gurara local government area to commit the crime.

“They are currently undergoing interrogation at the Command’s Headquarters in Minna, and would be charged to court at conclusion of the investigation,”he said.

 

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