Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that HABEEB AUDU, a/k/a “Dickson,” a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, was extradited today from the United Kingdom. AUDU was charged with participation in a series of fraud schemes from at least in or about 2013 until at least April 2019, involving the theft and laundering of more than $2 million. AUDU was arrested in London, England, on June 26, 2019, on a provisional arrest warrant, and is the fourth defendant charged in this case. AUDU is expected to be presented on Monday, August 31, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott. AUDU’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, Habeeb Audu played a key role in an international fraud conspiracy that victimized businesses and individuals by using stolen identities and social engineering to access victims’ bank accounts, and by engaging in business email compromise schemes. Thanks to the FBI and our international partners, including the Italian National Police, Audu is now in U.S. custody and facing charges in this District.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Today’s indictment outlines the alleged fraudulent conduct of Habeeb Audu and other conspirators who, over the course of nearly six years, robbed the bank accounts of both individuals and businesses here in the United States, sometimes from locations nearly halfway across the world. Using traditional spoofing techniques and business email compromise schemes, these crimes collectively brought in more than $2 million in proceeds. While today’s charges bring about a victory in this case, let it be a warning to the public to remain extra vigilant with respect to their personal and professional finances. The market is unfortunately rife with this type of crime.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today:
From at least 2013 through in or about 2018, AUDU and various other conspirators (collectively, the “Conspirators”), located in countries including the United States, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, were involved in a scheme to fraudulently access individuals’ and corporations’ bank accounts and to conduct financial transactions using those bank accounts without the knowledge or authority of the accounts’ legitimate owners (the “Bank Scheme”). As part of the Bank Scheme, the Conspirators placed thousands of calls to various United States banks, holding themselves out as legitimate accountholders of particular targeted bank accounts and using the stolen personal identifying information belonging to those accountholders. Using a particular telephone number “spoofing” service, and voice-altering technology, the Conspirators would deceive bank representatives into believing that the Conspirators were actual accountholders. In so doing, they convinced multiple U.S. banks to, among other things: move money from a victim’s savings account to the victim’s checking account (so that the Conspirators could more easily access the funds and conduct unauthorized transactions); falsely note on the account that the accountholder was traveling abroad (making the bank less likely to void suspicious international transactions made by the Conspirators); have “replacement” credit cards mailed to international addresses controlled by the Conspirators (whereupon the Conspirators could use them to make unauthorized purchases); and authorize foreign purchases made by the Conspirators.
AUDU, from at least December 2018 through April 2019, was also involved in separate schemes to defraud United States-based businesses and banks by means of business email compromise schemes (the “BEC Fraud Schemes”). For example, AUDU defrauded an Ohio-based restaurant chain (the “Restaurant Victim”) into wiring nearly $2 million to a bank account controlled by AUDU’s co-conspirators (the “AUDU Account”). He did so by tricking the Restaurant Victim into believing that one of its legitimate vendors had changed bank accounts to the AUDU Account, such that payments for the vendor’s services were made to the AUDU Account. These funds were thereafter quickly withdrawn from the AUDU Account and dispersed to other accounts controlled by AUDU and his co-conspirators.
Thereafter, in connection with an FBI undercover operation, AUDU and others each agreed, for a substantial fee, to launder moneys that they believed to be fraud proceeds, through bank accounts controlled by AUDU and his co-conspirators. In doing so, AUDU and his co-conspirators agreed to conceal the nature of those purportedly fraudulent proceeds.
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AUDU, 53, of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; four counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, each of which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutively to any other sentence. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Other defendants charged in this case include Abdulai Kennedy Saaka, a/k/a “Kenny,” of Atlanta, Georgia, who pled guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy in January 2020; Alade Kazeem Sodiq, a/k/a “Eluku,” a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, whose case remains pending; and Dominic Francis Labiran, a citizen of the United Kingdom, who remains at large.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. She also thanked United States Customs and Border Protection, Italian judicial law enforcement authorities, including the Prosecutor of the Republic of Naples and the Servizio Centrale Operativo of the Italian National Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, London, United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service for their assistance in this case. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from the United Kingdom.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Kiersten A. Fletcher, Jonathan E. Rebold, and Andrew A. Rohrbach are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.