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Nigerian man sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in US for conspiring to launder proceeds of internet fraud schemes

COURT

A Nigerian national has been sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison and ordered to pay over $1.46 million in restitution for conspiring to launder money derived from internet fraud schemes.

The United States Justice Department in a statement said 33-year-old Olugbenga Lawal, was sentenced on Monday, January 8, 2024.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Lawal, of Indianapolis, Indiana, worked directly with the Nigeria-based leader of an international criminal organization that defrauded individuals and businesses across the United States out of millions of dollars through sophisticated internet-based fraud schemes, including romance fraud and business email compromise schemes.

The criminal organization frequently targeted elderly victims who believed they had fallen in love with people they had met on the internet. Lawal then laundered millions of dollars of proceeds from the fraud schemes.

Between January 2019 and June 2020, bank accounts used by Lawal and his co-conspirators to launder money on behalf of the criminal organization received millions of dollars traced directly to individuals and businesses defrauded over the internet by members of the criminal organization.

Accounts Lawal controlled received over $3.6 million in deposits between January 2019 and May 2020. Those deposits were spread across seven different bank accounts Lawal opened in his own name or the name of his business entity, Luxe Logistics LLC. Ultimately, Lawal controlled bank accounts at no less than five different financial institutions in furtherance of his money laundering.

Additionally, Lawal played a role in laundering money for the criminal organization by converting the fraudulent dollars deposited in his accounts into Nigerian currency accessible in Nigeria.

He engaged in import/export transactions involving the shipment of cars to Nigeria and currency exchange business transactions to facilitate the repatriation of the organization’s fraud proceeds back to Nigeria.

On Aug. 10, 2023, Lawal was convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to commit money laundering. Three co-conspirators, Michael Hermann, Rita Assane, and Dwight Baines, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss for the District of Delaware, and Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.

The FBI investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Mary K. Daly and Michael Grady of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jesse S. Wenger and Meredith Ruggles for District of Delaware prosecuted the case, with assistance from MLARS Trial Attorneys Madeleine Case and Jasmin Salehi Fashami.

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