The U.S’s Federal Bureau of Investigation is set to extradite eight Nigerians arrested over their involvement in alleged internet scam of American citizens and money laundering.
The U.S Embassy released a statement on Thursday, in which it said the eight Nigerians were arrested by operatives of the South African Police Service and have been “Charged with Conspiring to Engage in Internet Scams and Money Laundering from South Africa”.
The suspects are; Perry Osagiede, 52; Enorense Izevbigie, 45, ; Franklyn Edosa Osagiede, 37; Osariemen Eric Clement,35; Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, 37; and Musa Mudashiru, 33; Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, 41, all originally from Nigeria. One defendant remains at large.
“The suspects were charged with multiple federal crimes relating to internet scams they perpetrated from South Africa”, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig for the District of New Jersey announced. The crimes were said to span from 2011 to 2021.
Honig continued; “Americans are too often victimized by criminal organizations located abroad who use the internet to deceive those victims, defraud them of money, and, many times, persuade the victims to wittingly or unwittingly assist in perpetuating the fraudulent schemes.
“The public should be on guard against schemes like these. And, more importantly, anyone thinking of engaging in this kind of criminal conduct should understand that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners will find them and bring them to justice, no matter where they are.”
U.S. Secret Service Office of Investigations Assistant Director Jeremy Sheridan said; “Transnational organized criminal networks continue to victimize U.S. citizens and threaten the financial infrastructure of the United States.
“The Secret Service, alongside our partner agencies, works tirelessly in its global investigative mission to dismantle these groups and arrest those who lead them. We are proud to be a part of the international law enforcement mission to combat all forms of financial crimes and thank all those involved in this investigation. The U.S. Secret Service extends its gratitude the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for its assistance.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr in his remark said; “Foreign nationals who think they can hide in another country or in cyberspace while preying on our citizens need to know one thing.
“The FBI has a global footprint and will use every resource available to protect the American people. The strong working relationship among our federal and international law enforcement partners allows us to reach across geographical boundaries. In other words, anyone who thinks they can avoid American justice simply by operating outside the United States should rethink their strategy.”
“Perry Osagiede, Franklyn Osagiede, Clement, and Izevbigie are also charged with wire fraud. Perry Osagiede, Franklyn Osagiede, and Otughwor are charged with aggravated identity theft.
“Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, aka “Andy Richards,” aka “Ann Petersen,” 41, also originally from Nigeria, is charged by separate indictment with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering conspiracy, spanning from 2016 to 2021,” the embassy stated.
According to documents filed in these cases: Perry Osagiede, Izevbigie, Franklyn Osagiede, Clement, Otughwor, and Mudashiru (the Black Axe defendants) were all leaders of the Neo-Black Movement of Africa, also known as “Black Axe,” an organization headquartered in Benin City, Nigeria, that operates in various countries.
The Black Axe is organized into regional chapters known as “zones,” and the defendants were all leaders within the Cape Town, South Africa, Zone. Perry Osagiede founded the Cape Town Zone of Black Axe and worked as its zonal head, along with Izevbigie. The Black Axe defendants and other members of Black Axe took part in, and openly discussed, fraud schemes amongst their membership.
The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greatest. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory term of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed on a defendant.
Seven defendants were arrested in South Africa by the South African Police Service. Those defendants had their initial appearances in South Africa and are awaiting extradition to the United States on these charges. Both cases are before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court.
The embassy said that the case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Priority Transnational Organized Crime (PTOC) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach.