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A Nigerian has been convicted in the US in a $6.3 million commercial email hacking scheme

A Nigerian has been convicted in the US in a $6.3 million commercial email hacking scheme

A federal jury in New Haven, Connecticut, convicted a Nigerian national, Okechukwu Valentine Osugie, of operating a commercial email compromise scheme outside multiple countries, including the United States, resulting in losses and intentional losses of more than $6.3 million.

According to a statement from the US Department of Justice, court documents and evidence presented at trial revealed that Osuji, 39, and his co-conspirators targeted specific individuals and companies by masquerading as trustworthy entities in electronic communications to obtain money.

The Department of Justice added that they inadvertently and intentionally used “money mules” to receive the proceeds of the fraud into their bank accounts, and then transferred those funds to accounts under the control of Osuji and his co-conspirators or to convert the stolen proceeds into cash for further conversion.

Over the many years of operation of the scheme, numerous victims were tricked into transferring funds into bank accounts that the victims believed were controlled by the legitimate recipients of the funds as part of normal business operations when in fact, the bank accounts were controlled by Osuji and his co-conspirators, the Department of Justice added.

what are they saying

Commenting on the conviction, which was handed down on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, Nicole M. Argentieri:

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  • “Osuji led a network of fraudsters in Malaysia and elsewhere in a sophisticated commercial email compromise scheme to defraud victims of millions of dollars.
  • “Today’s conviction is another example of how the Department’s collaboration with international law enforcement partners enables us to bring cybercriminals to justice in the United States.”
  • “While it is often difficult to identify and bring to justice cybercriminals operating abroad, today’s sentencing demonstrates the expertise of the FBI and Stamford Police in uncovering this criminal network, and the shared commitment of our counterparts in Malaysia to ensure fraudsters are held accountable,” the plaintiff said. American Vanessa Roberts Avery for the District of Connecticut: “In a court of law.”
  • “We will continue to work to root out those who engage in online fraud schemes, regardless of where they operate in the world and bring justice to the victims of these crimes.”

Also commenting on the conviction, Timothy R. Langan Jr., Executive Assistant Director of the FBI's Forensic, Cyber, Response and Services Branch:

  • “The defendant perpetrated a complex international commercial email compromise scheme and laundered millions in stolen proceeds.
  • “This conviction is the result of the hard work and close cooperation between the FBI and our domestic and international partners. Together, we will work aggressively to bring to justice anyone who engages in fraud and theft against Americans, no matter where they are in the world.”

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According to the Department of Justice, the jury convicted Osuji of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 24 and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years on the identity theft charge and a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison on the fraud and conspiracy charges.

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She added that a federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.

Osugie was arrested in Malaysia and extradited to the United States in 2022. His alleged accomplice, John Wamwega, remains in Malaysia and awaits extradition proceedings. Another co-conspirator, Tolulope Budunde, pleaded guilty on February 16.

The FBI New Haven Field Office and Stamford Police Department investigated the case. The Ministry of Justice's International Affairs Office, the Royal Malaysian Police, and the Malaysian Public Prosecutor's Office provided valuable assistance in securing Osogie's arrest and extradition.

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