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US sends million-dollar scammer to prison for four years


March 30, 2023

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US sends million-dollar scammer to prison for four years

The US Department of Justice has announced that it has sentenced a Nigerian man to prison for his part in a cybercrime ring that targeted individuals and businesses for over five years.

31-year-old Solomon Ekunke Okpe, of Lagos, was a member of a gang that devised and executed a variety of scams - including business email compromise (BEC), romance scams, working-from-home scams, and more - between December 2011 and January 2017.

Targeting unsuspecting members of the public as well as banks and businesses in the United States and elsewhere, Okpe and his co-conspirators are said to have intended to cause "more than a million dollars in losses" to their US victims - although it's not clear from the DoJ's statement whether this was achieved.

Amongst those in the group's sights were the First American Holding Company and MidFirst Bank.

Okpe and his cohorts stole victims' passwords and other sensitive information through phishing attacks, broke into their victims' online accounts, and assumed false identities to defraud individuals, banks, and businesses, while stealing credit cards.

In a series of BEC attacks, Okpe and other members of the gang tricked banks and other companies into making unauthorised money transfers to accounts under their control, while posing as trusted individuals.

The fraudsters also created fake profiles on job websites and forums, pretending to hire individuals for what they claimed were legitimate work-from-home jobs, but were in fact designed to act as money mules, moving stolen funds from different accounts.

In addition, Okpe and his fellow criminals created bogus accounts on dating websites, targeting lonely hearts with their fictitious identities, in an attempt to trick them into wiring tens of thousands of dollars overseas.

Okpe, was initially arrested in Malaysia, and was detained there for more than two years while he contested his extradition to the United States.

Both Okpe and a co-conspirator, Johnson Uke Obogo, pleaded guilty to wire, bank and mail fraud charges in December last year.

Obogo, who was arrested in the United Kingdom, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for his role in the criminal enterprise. Okpe was sentenced this week to four years and one month in prison.




Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s.

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