Nigerian National Convicted in Federal Court for Money Laundering Internet Fraud

Nigerian National Convicted in Federal Court for Money Laundering Internet Fraud

WILMINGTON, DE — Olugbenga Lawal, previously of Indianapolis, Indiana, was convicted on August 10, 2023, of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering following a 4-day federal trial.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Lawal was a member of a Nigerian-based criminal organization that victimized individuals and businesses across the United States through internet-based fraud schemes, including romance fraud and business email compromises, and laundered the proceeds of those fraud schemes.  The criminal organization frequently targeted elderly victims who believed they had fallen in love with people they met on the internet.

Lawal opened multiple bank accounts in his own name and the name of a purported business entity for the purpose of receiving the illegal proceeds his co-conspirators generated through internet fraud.  Lawal received fraud proceeds both from individuals directly victimized by the criminal organization and from other money launderers working on behalf of the criminal organization.  Lawal used those fraud proceeds to buy cars that would be shipped to Nigeria to be sold.

Between January 2019 and June 2020, bank accounts used by Lawal and his co-conspirators to launder money on behalf of the criminal organization received over $7 million.  Most of that money was traced directly to individuals and businesses defrauded over the internet by Lawal’s co-conspirators in the criminal organization.

U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss stated, “The online fraud schemes perpetrated by Mr. Lawal and his co-conspirators drained senior citizens of their retirement savings and resulted in American businesses losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.  My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and prosecute those who enrich themselves and their criminal partners through online fraud schemes at the expense of hardworking Americans.”

“Lawal shamefully helped organize and execute this extensive scheme that took advantage of our senior citizens and hurt American businesses,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI urges Americans to learn how to identify romance scams as well as business email compromise schemes which have increased dramatically in recent years.”

As a result of his conviction, Lawal faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; three years of supervised release; a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property, whichever is greater; forfeiture; and restitution.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence and restitution amount after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case was investigated by FBI Baltimore Field Office’s Wilmington Resident Agency with assistance from the FBI Indianapolis Field Office.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jesse Wenger and Meredith Ruggles of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware; Trial Attorneys Mary K. Daly and Michael Grady of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section; and former Trial Attorney Madeleine Case.

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