Nigerian gets 20 years for scams unraveled by HSI in Gulfport Pleads guilty to money laundering cons

4 years ago by: Bukola Bukky
-- (f) at 21-08-2015 05:17PM

(372 | Upcoming)

GULFPORT -- A Nigerian has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in an organized crime ring's use of the Internet to commit financial fraud schemes with intended losses of $50 million.

Teslim Olarewaju Kiriji, 30 was sentenced
Thursday on a guilty plea to conspiracy to
commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden imposed the maximum prison sentence and fined him $10,000
fine. Kiriji has been held without bond since his arrest in May 2014.

Court papers show Kiriji is from Lagos, Nigeria, and was living in Brownsburg, Ind., without permission to be in the United States. Kiriji was part of a West African global crime ring said to have defrauded thousands of victims.

Homeland Security Investigations in Gulfport began to unravel the crimes in October 2011 after a Biloxi woman reported she had been scammed.

The crime ring used the Internet to find victims and commit financial fraud scams and mass- marketing schemes. Prosecutors and a Homeland Security Investigations agent have said the conspiracy included romance, work-at- home, re-shipping and fraudulent check scams and the takeover of bank, financial and credit card accounts.

U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis said Kiriji admitted he had used and distributed victims' personal and financial information for nearly 15 years, from 2004 and until his arrest.

The schemes included the purchase of
merchandise with stolen personal financial
information, fraudulent credit cards in the names of persons living in the U.S. and the re-shipping of merchandise to avoid detection. Kiriji was indicted along with 16 others. At least three others were charged in separate indictments.

The indictment said the co-defendants also used fraudulently obtained cash advances to buy smartphones, computers other electronic devices and directed them to be shipped and re-shipped to themselves for their own benefit.

Ozerden granted a motion to seal thousands of pages of documents that include 5,440 emails and instant messages to and from Kiriji, a court document shows. The emails contain personal identifying information and credit card information of victims.

The Biloxi woman who first alerted authorities reported she was the victim of a sweetheart scam. She had received a package in the mail and was asked to re-ship it to an address in Pretoria, South Africa.

Prosecutors have said victims were found in
hacked mass email lists, through a dating
website, in romance scams and work-at-home schemes. They were asked to withdraw money at ATMs using prepaid cards and forward part of the money to other people via MoneyGram and
 Western Union.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorneys Annette Williams and Scott Gilbert and Robert Tulley of the Justice Department's Organized Crime Gang Section.

Investigating agencies include the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, South African Police Service, Toronto police, Interpol South Africa and HSI agents in Atlanta, Charleston, Ontario and Pretoria.

-- dickieponga (m) at 21-08-2015 05:40PM
(13881 | Hero)

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