On August 22, 2019, the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California reported the unsealing of a 252-count federal grand jury indictment charging 80 defendants, mostly Nigerian nationals, with conspiracy to steal and launder millions of dollars via multiple online fraud schemes. The report emphasizes that the "FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide," and that "[t]his indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators - no matter where they reside - and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains."
Specifically, the indictment alleges that the online fraud schemes used included business email compromise frauds, romance scams, and other schemes especially targeting the elderly. Allegedly, co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the U.S. and other countries would contact the two Nigerian lead defendants, Iro and Igbokwe, for bank and money-service accounts to receive the ill-gotten gains. Subsequently, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of the stolen funds and managed the vast money-laundering network.
The indictment and criminal complaint allege that at least $6 million were fraudulently obtained via the schemes in which Iro and Igbokwe were participants, and that the overall conspiracy was aimed at stealing at least an additional $40 million.
The new release clarified that the FBI is leading the investigation and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Unfortunately, scammers are increasingly convincing and sophisticated. In the context of phony IRS call scams, remember that the IRS has stated that it will never:
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Call you about an unexpected refund.1
You can read the entire indictment here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/press-release/file/1197341/download
If you have any tax questions or concerns, call Frost & Associates, LLC today at 410-497-5947