Nigerian national who laundered funds from romance and BEC scams gets 10-year sentence

A Nigerian national was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in United States prison for laundering millions obtained from internet scams.

A Nigerian national was sentenced on Monday to 10 years in United States prison for laundering millions obtained from internet scams.

He is also required to pay over $1.4 million in restitution, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

According to court documents, 33-year-old Olugbenga Lawal of Indianapolis was involved in “sophisticated” romance fraud and business email compromise schemes. His victims include elderly users enticed into romantic relationships.

Lawal didn’t work alone but was part of a Nigeria-based international criminal organization. In August, he was convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to commit money laundering. His three co-conspirators, Michael Hermann, Rita Assane, and Dwight Baines previously pleaded guilty to the same crime.

Between January 2019 and May 2020, bank accounts controlled by Lawal received over $3.6 million in deposits. These deposits were spread across seven different bank accounts he opened in his name or the name of his business entity, Luxe Logistics. In total, Lawal controlled bank accounts in at least five different financial institutions to cover up money laundering.

Lawal also helped to launder money for the criminal organization by converting the stolen dollars deposited in his accounts into Nigerian currency accessible in Nigeria.

He also was involved in an import-export car-trading scheme with Nigeria, and exchanged currency to help send the fraudulent earnings of the organization back to the West African country, the DOJ said.

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Daryna Antoniuk
is a freelance reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.


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