Hushpuppi’s Ally, Woodberry Pleads Guilty To Fraud In US, Forfeits $8m, Luxury Assets
Nigerian fraudster, Olalekan Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry, has pleaded guilty to a fraud charge at a United States district court.
Woodberry is well-known to be an ally of another Nigerian international fraudster, Ramon Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi, who was jailed last year.
Both men were arrested in 2020 for extensive international online scams in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and were flown to the United States to face separate trials.
Hushpuppi, who initially pleaded not guilty, changed his plea to guilty in April 2021, just before a full-blown trial was to begin. The US district court for Central California where prosecutors charged him jailed him for 11 years and ordered him to pay $1.7 million restitution in November 2022.
Woodberry also first pleaded not guilty to the eight-count fraud charge for engaging in a scheme known as business email compromise (BEC). But he made a U-turn to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud during a change of plea hearing at the US District Court for Northern Illinois this April.
According to his plea agreement, Woodberry was required to repay the $8 million he fraudulently received from the seven companies that fell for his scam.
“Defendant understands that by pleading guilty, he will subject to forfeiture to the United States all right, title, and interest that he has in any property constituting or derived from proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the offence,” the document containing Woodberry’s signed plea declaration reads.
Woodberry was also asked to waive his rights to the luxury cars, and designer watches he had stashed in Dubai.
The high-end automobiles include Rolls Royce Cullinan with vehicle no J9153, Lamborghini Urus (N4973), and Mercedes-Benz G-class (G68816).
Other items seized are four Rolex watches, one Patek Philippe watch, three Audemars Piguet watches, three gold and diamond-studded earrings, and six gold neck chains.
Last year, he had forfeited 151.8 Bitcoin, roughly $6 million, to the US government, determined to recover all stolen monies from the Nigerian fraudster.
The judge, Robert Gettleman set 11 July for sentencing after accepting the plea agreement Woodberry entered into with US prosecutors.
The judge referred the case to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence investigation and report, which would guide his decision on the appropriate sentence to impose.
He gave the US government 60 days before the sentencing date to provide the Probation Office and the courtroom deputy a list of victims and their full current contact information to obtain the court’s order of restitution.
“The list shall include any amounts subject to restitution. If the Government is not able to provide the full victim list 60 days before sentencing, they shall file a motion to request an extension of time to compile the information,” the judge added.
KanyiDaily recalls that Woodberry was arrested in Dubai on June 10, 2020, along with Hushpuppi who is currently serving an 11-year sentence for a similar fraud charge.