Three Nigerians, Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, James Junior Aliyu and Henry Onyedikachi Echefu, have been indicted for a crime involving wire fraud, money laundering and the compromise of business emails.
According to the US Department of Justice, Simon-Ebo, Aliyu and Echefu, who are aged 29, 28 and 31 years old respectively, are based in South Africa, where they were first indicted in 2016 for conspiring to perpetrate a business email compromise (BEC) scheme.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators, including co-conspirators residing in Maryland, gained unauthorized access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses targeted by the conspirators,” the Department of Justice stated.
The department said Simon-Ebo, who is the first of the three defendants, had been extradited from Canada to the U.S and was expected to appear in court on Friday.
“The first of three defendants, Simon-Ebo, has been extradited from Canada to the United States to face a federal indictment, and is scheduled to have his initial appearance on Friday, April 14, 2023, at 3:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt before U.S. Magistrate Judge Amjel Quereshi.
“A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Simon-Ebo, James Junior Aliyu, and Echefu, 31, all Nigerian citizens residing in South Africa, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and for wire fraud and money laundering charges related to a business email compromise (“BEC”) scheme with losses of more than $6 million.”
The indictment of the three men was returned on June 24, 2019 and unsealed three years later.
“The indictment was returned on June 24, 2019, and unsealed on July 6, 2022, upon the defendants’ arrests outside the United States,” the department said.
“The co-conspirators then allegedly sent false wiring instructions to the victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses, to deceive the victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by perpetrators of the scheme, called “drop accounts.”
“The indictment also alleges that the defendants conspired to commit money laundering by disbursing the fraudulently obtained funds in the drop accounts to other accounts by initiating account transfers, withdrawing cash, obtaining cashier’s checks and by writing checks to other individuals and entities, to hide the true ownership and the source of those assets.”
The three Nigerians face up to 20 years behind bars for the crimes.