September 11, 2022 at 7:55 AM #40266justseyiKeymaster
Nigerian man wanted for defrauding New York State of more than $30 million while the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height by posing as a seller of ventilators
In Philadelphia Chidozie Collins Obasi, 29, of Nigeria, was charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, and sixteen counts of wire fraud, according to United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero.
These charges are the result of a complex, evolving fraud scheme that initially targeted Americans through a spam email campaign offering bogus “work from home” jobs, and then changed its focus during the COVID-19 pandemic to target U.S and finally changed once again in June 2020 to applying for and obtaining Economic Injury Disaster Loans (or “EID Loans”) using stolen identity information of American individuals. According to the Indictment, Obasi carried out this scam from Nigeria with the assistance of accomplices in Canada and other countries.
Through this elaborate fraud operation, the defendant and his co-conspirators are accused of obtaining more than $31,000,000, with more than $30 million of that total coming from the State of New York for the intended purchase of ventilators.
With a spam email campaign that advertised fake “work from home” positions, the claimed conspiracy in the indictment got underway in September 2018.
The new “employee” cashed the counterfeit checks, received a commission, and wired the remaining funds to a foreign bank account presumably controlled by the bogus company after receiving them from a co-conspirator in Canada who had pretended to be the company’s customers. Obasi and his accomplices allegedly used this method to acquire more than $1 million, according to the Indictment.
The indictment also claims that around March 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States and ventilators were in high demand, Obasi pretended to be a representative of an Indonesian medical supply company and offered ventilators for sale. He also allegedly claimed to have a sizable stockpile of ventilators made by a German company whose headquarters were in Telford, Pennsylvania. In order to trick the State of New York into wiring more than $30 million for the purchase of nonexistent ventilators, the defendant allegedly persuaded a medical equipment broker in the United States to broker sales of these nonexistent ventilators. Obasi persisted in using this similar trick to approach other potential clients, including hospitals.
The Indictment claims that Obasi and his accomplices used the EID Loan scheme later, around June 2020, by applying for and receiving more than $135,000 in EID Loan revenues using stolen identities of American residents.
The US is looking for Obasi, who is now at large, in order to apprehend him. Anyone who knows where he is should get in touch with their local FBI office.
Obasi may receive a maximum penalty of 621 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $5,750,000 fine if he is discovered and found guilty. Obasi will also be ordered to pay back in full the more than $31 million that he fraudulently obtained.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation, and Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe is handling the prosecution.
An accusation is made in a criminal complaint, information, or indictment. Until and unless a person is shown to be guilty, they are deemed innocent.
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