Nigerian man faces 20 years imprisonment in US for laundering proceeds from romance scams and pandemic unemployment fraud Nigerian man faces 20 years imprisonment in US for laundering proceeds from romance scams and pandemic unemployment fraud
A 54-year-old Nigerian man, Augustine Osemwegie, has pleaded guilty to money laundering in Fall River, Milton, Massachusetts.
Osemwegie pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering on Thursday, which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
The feds say Osemwegie used his car dealership, vehicle auctions and international car shipping to launder and transmit the proceeds of romance scams, pandemic unemployment fraud and other fraudulent schemes.
Specifically, Osemwegie accepted fraud proceeds in cash from “customers,” took a percentage fee for laundering the funds and then used the remaining funds to purchase used vehicles at auto auctions, purportedly for the use of his customers.
Osemwegie then shipped those vehicles outside the U.S., principally to Nigeria, where they were sold for the benefit of Osemwegie’s customers.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data shows that Ejad Auto Sales exported 183 vehicles from the U.S. to Nigeria and two vehicles to Cotonou, Benin from Nov. 8, 2018 to Aug. 13, 2021 — a total value of more than $1.1 million or about $6,105 per vehicle, according to court filings.
In September 2020, during recorded calls and meetings with an undercover agent, Osemwegie agreed to accept fraud proceeds from the undercover agent and transfer them abroad, under the guise of purchasing a used luxury sedan.
The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement on Thursday, April 21.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Stearns of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.