U.S. District Judge has sentenced a Nigerian internet fraudster Hammed Akinola and his American accomplice, James Campbell, to about 23 years imprisonment for defrauding about 45 victims of $10million.
The fraudster popularly known as “Yahoo Boy”, bagged 15 years (180 months) imprisonment, while his American accomplice was jailed 90 months, for a $10million fraud.
The sentence was ordered by a Federal High Court in Houston, Texas, in the United States (U.S.) following investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to a press release by the US Justice Department, the U.S. District Judge David Hittner handed the sentence on April 12, after both men pleaded guilty.
They were found to have taken or attempted to take large sums of money from roughly 45 victims, who thought they were sending their money to a title company to close on a home.
Unknown to them, the money was fraudulently being transferred to a bank in Houston controlled by the defendants.
Judge Hittner noted that the defendants “ruined many Americans’ lives”, while the banks took a large hit as well.
Campbell and Akinola were involved in an international wire fraud conspiracy that consisted primarily of Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud which targeted businesses and individuals that regularly perform wire transfer payments between January 2016 and November 2017.
They compromised legitimate business e-mail accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds by international co-conspirators.
The international co-conspirators hacked into the victims accounts and sent what appeared to the victims to be legitimate emails from banks or title companies.
The victims, tricked into thinking such emails were from the bank or title companies, would then transfer the money to the accounts the defendants controlled, not knowing they were fraudulent emails.
Akinola was working with overseas conspirators who were orchestrating the BEC victimization.
Those conspirators needed domestic bank accounts where they could send the funds stolen from the BEC fraud.
Akinola and Campbell agreed to work together to open bank accounts and to recruit individuals in and around the Houston area to open bank accounts in order to receive the BEC wires.
Campbell and Akinola then recruited 20 other individuals who opened bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds.
The proceeds of the fraud scheme were disbursed between the account holders, Campbell, Akinola and international accomplices.