Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSHUA IKEJIMBA, a/k/a “Johnson Ifeanyi Gbono,” a/k/a “Alfred Henshaw,” a/k/a “Peterson Kamara Lawson,” a/k/a “Ganiru Paul Thompson,” pled guilty and was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today for conspiring to commit wire fraud as part of a wide-ranging, international business email compromise (“BEC”) syndicate. IKEJIMBA was sentenced to 24 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As he admitted in court today, Joshua Ikejimba played a key role in an international business email compromise conspiracy. For his admitted crime, Ikejimba will serve a two-year prison sentence and be compelled to make restitution to the victims of his fraud.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment, Complaint, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings:
During the relevant time period, IKEJIMBA, his co-defendants, and others engaged in a fraudulent BEC scheme that deceived numerous victims, including international companies, individuals, and an intergovernmental organization headquartered in New York City, into diverting payments to bank accounts controlled by the syndicate.
The defendants executed this fraudulent scheme by, among other things, obtaining fraudulent passports in false names, registering and incorporating shell companies, and opening fake bank accounts at various banks throughout the United States. A substantial number of victims were tricked by fake emails and fraudulent wiring instructions into sending funds to the syndicate’s bank accounts, and those amounts were then withdrawn by members of the conspiracy and dissipated. During the period from about 2016 through about July 2018, it appears the defendants obtained approximately $8 million by defrauding numerous victims.
IKEJIMBA had a multi-faceted role in the BEC scheme, which included using fraudulent identities and false identification documents to open bank accounts; using those accounts to receive funds from victims; and forming a shell corporation to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fraud proceeds, principally by purchasing or depositing cashier’s checks that represented stolen funds. Through his participation in the scheme, IKEJIMBA was personally responsible for receiving and laundering approximately $1.25 million in fraud proceeds.
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IKEJIMBA, 25, of Houston, Texas, pled guilty to, and was sentenced on, one count of with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition to the 24-month prison term, IKEJIMBA was sentenced to three years of supervised release. IKEJIMBA was further ordered to forfeit $1,250,766.03, and to pay restitution to his victims in the amount of $1,238,748.93.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Olga I. Zverovich and Jarrod L. Schaeffer are in charge of the prosecution.