FBI declares Nigerian fraudster Chidozie Collins Obasi wanted over $31 million fraud

The United States government’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has declared a Nigerian based man Chidozie Collins Obasi, wanted for defrauding the State of New York State $31 million.

FBI declares Nigerian based fraudster Chidozie Collins Obasi wanted over $31 million fraud

This was contained in a tweet posted on the FBI Philadelphia’s official Twitter account on Saturday.

The tweet asked the general public with knowledge of his whereabouts to contact the FBI’s local office.

“Chidozie Collins Obasi of Nigeria is wanted for defrauding N.Y. State out of more than $30 million. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts should contact their local FBI office or go to—anonymous tips OK. More info via @USAO_EDPA,” the tweet read.

According to a statement released by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), 29-year-old Obasi, was charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, and 16 counts of wire fraud.

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The Indictment alleges that Chidozie Collins Obasi perpetrated this fraud from Nigeria, with the help of co-conspirators in Canada and elsewhere. The defendant and his co-conspirators are alleged to have obtained more than $31,000,000 through this multi-faceted fraud scheme, with the overwhelming majority of that money – more than $30 million – coming from the State of New York for the intended purchase of non-existent COVID-19 ventilators.

The DoJ further explained that the scheme which had initially targeted Americans through a spam email campaign offering illegitimate “work from home” jobs, and then during the COVID-19 pandemic, later shifted to targeting U.S. hospitals and medical systems by offering non-existent ventilators for sale.

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Shortly after COVID-19 struck the United States, Mr Obasi took advantage of the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EID Loans) introduced to aid Americans affected by the pandemic-induced lockdown by applying for and receiving more than $135,000 in EID Loan proceeds by stealing identities and information of American citizens.

”The scheme alleged in the Indictment began in September 2018, with a spam email campaign that offered phoney “work from home” jobs. When a person responded to the phoney job offer, Obasi or a co-conspirator posed as a representative of a legitimate company, often a supposed medical equipment supplier based outside the United States, and offered the person a job as the company’s U.S. representative with responsibilities including collecting on outstanding invoices.

”A co-conspirator in Canada then sent the new “employee” counterfeit checks purportedly from customers of the company, and the new “employee” deposited the checks, took a commission, and wired the rest of the money to a foreign bank account ostensibly owned by the fake company. As alleged in the Indictment, Obasi and his co-conspirators obtained more than $1 million in this manner.

”The Indictment further alleges that in approximately March 2020, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and ventilators were in high demand, Obasi posed as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company offering ventilators for sale, and claimed to have a large stockpile of ventilators manufactured by a German company whose headquarters was in Telford, PA.

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”The defendant allegedly convinced a medical equipment broker in the U.S. to broker sales of these non-existent ventilators, and ultimately deceived the State of New York into wiring more than $30 million for the purchase of ventilators that did not exist. Obasi continued to target other potential customers with this same scam, including hospitals.

”Later, in approximately June 2020, the Indictment alleges that Obasi and his co-conspirators took advantage of the EID Loan program by using stolen identities of U.S. citizens to apply for and obtain more than $135,000 in EID Loan proceeds.”

“If caught and convicted, Chidozie Collins Obasi faces a maximum sentence of 621 years in prison, a five-year period of supervised release, and a $5,750,000 fine. Obasi also will be required to make full restitution of the more than $31,000,000 that he obtained by fraud.

“Obasi is presently a fugitive, and the United States is seeking to locate and arrest him. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts should contact their local FBI Office.

“The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.”

The case file here.

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