US Court Sentences Nigerian To Six Years, Six Months In Prison

A court in Tennessee, United States, has sentenced Olufolajimi Abegunde, a Nigerian residing in that country to 78 months in prison following his conviction for cyber fraud.

The US Department of Justice made this known in a statement released on its website.

According to the statement, Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney-General of the Criminal Division, and D. Michael, an attorney in Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, announced that Sheryl Lipman handed out the judgment on Tuesday.

The judge ordered Abegunde, who has an MBA from Texas A&M University in College Station, to pay $57,911.62 in restitution to the victims of his offence.

Abegunde and one Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 29, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial.

Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for his role in the scam.

The convicts are said to have received more than $10,000,000 to the detriment of US citizens and businesses.

Evidence presented during the trial showed that the Nigerian engaged in black-market currency exchanges over the life of the conspiracy.

The statement said, “Purporting to hold himself out as a legitimate businessman, Abegunde claimed association with a business entity that was not yet operational in late 2017, so for his primary source of income he relied on his off-the-book currency exchanges.

“Through this network, Abegeunde played a key role along with Ramos-Alonso in laundering fraud funds from an October 3, 2016, business email compromise (BEC) of a land title company located in Bellingham, Washington.

“The proceeds of another BEC perpetrated in July 2016 upon a real estate company in Memphis, Tennessee, also moved through parts of the same criminal organisation.

“While incarcerated and awaiting trial in the Western District of Tennessee, Abegunde continued his conspiratorial activities, trying to convince his fake spouse, who has since filed for divorce to refuse to testify against him.

“Abegunde also engaged in witness tampering by sending a self-written motion to dismiss bearing his former attorney’s name and professional attestation.

“The evidence at trial established that Abegunde drafted and sent the motion, which his attorney expressly did not authorise to his faux spouse in an effort to deceive her into not testifying against him.”

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