A Nigerian man, Kelvin Otunyo has been sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison by the US District court on charges of fraud, money laundering and identity theft scheme.
The 37-year-old Nigerian was sentenced on Friday over his involvement in at least six schemes to deposit and launder stolen and unauthorised cheques valued at more than $350,000 (N144 million).
Otunyo pleaded guilty on April 1, 2021, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, to two counts of bank fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, as stated on the Justice department’s website.
He was sentenced by Judge Beryl A. Howell. Following his prison term, he will be placed on four years of supervised release.
The suspect had also been asked to pay a restitution judgment in the amount of $124,157 (N51 million) and a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $303,207 (N124.7 million).
According to court papers, Otunyo and co-conspirators, in a period of one year (August 2017 – August 2018) engaged in a series of schemes in which they obtained stolen or unauthorised cheques from victims, established fraudulent shell corporations and bank accounts and deposited or attempted to deposit the cheques before laundering the resulting proceeds.
It was stated that the frauds were committed using false IDs and fraudulent aliases. Otunyo was also said to have procured the real name and social security number of an identity theft victim for use in one of the schemes.
The six schemes involved nine stolen or unauthorised cheques from eight victims totalling $355,745.29.
Otunyo was also involved in laundering the proceeds of various frauds, business email compromises, and bad cheque schemes.
The press statement also noted that three other defendants have been charged. In June 2019, Chief Judge Howell sentenced Michael Orji, a co-conspirator, to 10 years of incarceration, five years of supervised release, and $905, 274 in restitution.
Another of Otunyo’s co-conspirators, Samson Olawale Afolabi, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing on October 1, 2021.
Another defendant, Jamar Skeete, has been indicted in connection with similar, related fraud and money laundering; he has pleaded not guilty to charges.