Nigerian man in US$31 million cyber fraud wanted by FBI

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FBI Agents

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has declared a Nigerian man wanted for defrauding the state of New York of more than $30 million in wire and mail fraud. 

Twenty-one-year-old Chidozie Collins Obasi was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, and 16 counts of wire fraud.

According to US attorney, Jacqueline C. Romero, all the fraudulent activities committed by Obasi were part of an elaborate scheme targeting Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Initially starting in October 2018, Obasi and his co-conspirators began sending spam emails offering fake remote jobs to Americans. When they got responses, the instigators would then pose as representatives of legitimate US-based companies—often ones selling medical equipment. As part of their new jobs, the unsuspecting victims would cash fake cheques from supposed customers of the companies, take commissions from the cheques, and send the remnants to foreign bank accounts created by Obasi. Via this scheme, Obasi defrauded banks of $1 million.

At the height of the pandemic when countries were low on ventilators, Obasi allegedly defrauded the state of New York of $30 million by posing as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company offering non-existent ventilators for sale.

In June 2020, the accused also used stolen identities of US citizens to obtain more than $135,000 in EID loan proceeds.

Obasi is presently wanted by the FBI who state that he faces a 621-year maximum prison sentence, a $5,750,000 fine, and restitution of the $31 million he allegedly stole.

Obasi’s case is the latest in a series of COVID-related cyber fraud schemes that have been revealed since 2020 including Babatunde “Teddy” Adesanya and Akinpelu Abbass who were arrested by INTERPOL for their involvement in a €14.7 million ($14.9 million) PPE fraud. Since the pandemic, an estimated $100 billion has been lost to COVID-19-related fraud masterminded by criminals across the globe.

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