According to a statement by the US Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, the defendants are Sulaiman Dosunmu, 39; Tunde Adeowo, 40; Muritala Adeowo, 55; Ayanniyi Alayande, 47; Ahmmed Ponle, 41; Margiettu Kamu, 34; Rafiat Sarumi, 36; Babatunde Oke, 40; Adekunle Owolabi, 49; Olayinka Olaseinde, 42; and Olugbenga Oyedele, 47.
The were were charged for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud in Southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania over the course of four years, US Attorney, Craig Carpenito said.
The suspects, said to have swindled hundreds of victims through accounts domiciled in American banks including Wells Fargo, were arraigned on multiple counts such as fraud, forgery, amongst others.
“The defendants are allegedly members of a Nigeria-based, multi-layered organisation that engaged in a massive bank fraud conspiracy in several states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Rhode Island, between June 2016 and March 2020.
“Members of the group stole numerous business checks from the United States mail, altered the payee on the checks to a fraudulent name and deposited the checks in bank accounts that had been opened with forged foreign passport documents and fraudulent US visas that matched the names on the stolen checks.
“Members of the organisation have used over 400 fraudulent accounts with fake identity documents to defraud the banks.
“The organisation also laundered the proceeds of the fraud by several means, including using debit cards to purchase money orders from third-party stores and using those money orders to purchase used automobiles from different automobile auction companies in Pennsylvania.
“The vehicles were then exported to Nigeria and other countries in Africa to launder the stolen funds and to increase profits by selling the vehicles at the higher market values obtained for vehicles in these foreign countries,” the charge sheet partly read.
It was gathered that each of the suspects risks a penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1m if found guilty.
This is coming barely two weeks after the United States indicted six Nigerians for their alleged involvement in a fraud scheme that stole more than $6 million from US citizens.