Tuesday, June 25, 2024

$50 Million in BEC Losses

The Eastern District of New York has announced charges against four men for their roles in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) and romance scams. 


The US Attorney's Office press release states: 

Defendants Allegedly Participated in Fraudulent Schemes That Resulted in More Than $50 Million in Losses by Victims in New York City and Across the Country

Today, indictments were unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging four defendants for their participation in a series of fraudulent business email compromise (BEC) schemes and related romance schemes that resulted in more than $50 million in losses by individuals and small businesses located within the Eastern District of New York and throughout the United States. 

The first defendant, Animashaun Adebo, also known as Kazeem and Kazeem Animashaun, was arrested in Chicago and posted $1 million in bail on the surety of three co-signers, including Toyosi Abdul who appeared in person on 20JUN2024.  He is charged in an indictment along with Idowu Ademoroti, with five unnamed co-conspirators -- three from Nigeria (one living in the US), one from Cameroon (living in the US), and one from Germany (living in the US.)  ADEMOROTI is described as being 31 and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Atlanta, Georgia. 

Adebo and Ademoroti are charged with operating an illegal money transmitting business and receiving and laundering funds from BEC and Romance Scams, including real estate transactions.  One example is from a July 2021 real estate deal where a home was being purchased in Brooklyn, New York.  A wire for $450,000 was misdirected after fraudulent emails told the buyer to wire the funds to the wrong location.  The funds were then used to write three cashier's checks payable to Q&A LLC, a corporation registered to ADEMOROTI. 

Wisconsin.gov: Q&A LLC Entity ID: Q005966, created 31JUL2020

A second example followed the same model, with $1,319,669 being wired to the wrong location for the purchase of construction equipment. Some of those funds were used to purchase three luxury wrist watches for $319,000 which were provided to ADEBO.  

In a third example, a worker in a veterinarian clinic was convinced to send pharmaceutical payments to the wrong bank account, and made payments of $459,453 (around 24MAY2021) and $1,117,036 (around 03JUN2021) to the wrong address.  Those funds went to a bank account belonging to a romance scam victim! The victim believed he was in love with a "Nicole Newton" who was using a variety of schemes to extract money from him. These funds were used to send wires, write checks, and purchase and transfer cryptocurrency.  Two of those checks, for $137,500 and $157,300, were sent to Q&A LLC, at a Chicago address and deposited into accounts controlled by ADEMOROTI. 

In a fourth example, a California title insurance company was convinced to wire $3,920,275 to a fake escrow attorney related to a legal settlement between two companies. Some of these funds were also sent, at ADEBO's direction, to Q&A LLC in Chicago.  Many of these funds were converted to Naira and deposited into bank accounts in Nigeria. 

Nigerian Co-Conspirators Unveiled

Noguan Marvellous Eboigbe, who used aliases Randall Olson, Martin Roberto, and Carlos Eduardo, lived in Nigeria and was the one who conducted the email scams mentioned above.  In once case he posed as the lawyer Randall Olson, with email randallolson648@gmail.com to give the false information for the payment of construction equipment.  In another, he used the email olsonrandalls@aol.com to send an additional $500,000, also for construction equipment.  Using the email mroberto@martirosoft.com and the name Martin Roberto, he caused $1.2 Million to be misdirected.  Using the email "c.eduardo@carsotecnologia.com" he caused a $3.9 Million payment to be misdirected.  In interactions with six victim law firms, EBOIGBE cause more than $10 Million to be sent to the wrong bank accounts, some of which flowed into the accounts of the other co-conspirators. 

Nelson Ojeriakhi used aliases Ojeey Mami and Oba Millie to conduct BEC scams, claiming to be a lawyer and using the email closingoffices@gmail.com, OJERIAKHI caused a New York based couple to wire $450,000 to the wrong account.  The indictment demonstrates that at some point OJERIAKHI or his co-conspirators were able to access the real estate broker's email account and add mail rules causing any emails from the legitimate parties in the transaction to be deleted. 

The indictment against OJERIAKHI shows several additional examples with victims being tricked into misdirecting funds including another $690,000, $114,000, and $120,000. 

Strange Co-Conspirator: the 79 Year Old Woman from Germany 

The German co-conspirator charged in this case was Franziska Von Greve-Dierfeld, who was 79 years old.  In April 2021, Franziska created a Chicago-area bank baccount for a company called Enbro LLC, claiming she was in the business of wholesale fabrics and furniture.  The accont received multiple deposits, none of which were related to the stated business purpose.   $360,000 from an attorney in Seattle, Washington, $340,000 more from the same attorney.  $996,240 from an organization in Philadelphia.  Franziska created additional businesses and opened accounts at aditional banks, also receiving, for example, two wires totaling $2,277,090.99 from a grocery store in Iowa; $910,000 from a jewelry store in Queens, New York, and $93,700 in a cashier's check.  She was arrested on 25MAY2022 in Pennsvylvania and released 23AUG2023 with the sentence of "time served" and a forfeiture order for $2.3 Million before being "Judicially Removed" from the United States and sent home to Germany. 

I anticipate that as this case moves forward, we'll find Franziska was a Romance Scam victim who got caught up in the conspiracy. 

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