BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Prim F. Escalona, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and Johnnie Sharp, Jr. the Special Agent in Charge of the Birmingham Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced two indictments against four defendants charged for their roles in separate and unrelated business email compromise fraud schemes.
On November 17, 2020 a federal grand jury indicted Oyedele Aro Benjamin, 26, of Chicago, Illinois, and Adetona Lala, 37, of Country Club Hills, Illinois, with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment alleges that from September 2018 to May 2019, Benjamin and Lala were part of an international criminal conspiracy that targeted companies throughout the United States of America with business email compromise schemes. Members of the conspiracy tricked and deceived victims into sending payments for legitimate business services to bank accounts that were controlled by the defendants and used for money laundering. The defendants executed this fraudulent scheme by, among other things, using fake names, false identity documents, and shell companies to open bank accounts used to receive fraud proceeds and then to launder those funds. The charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Benjamin and Lala are also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
The FBI investigated the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and former Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Keim. Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Canter and Catherine L. Crosby are prosecuting the case.
On November 17, 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Ohimai Asikhia, 36, of Glassboro, New Jersey, and Paulinus Ebhodaghe, 39, of Clementon, New Jersey with conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment alleges that from June 2018 through November 2018, Asikhia and Ebhodaghe conspired to launder the proceeds of various fraud schemes, including business email compromise fraud schemes and online romance scams. If convicted Asikhia and Ebhodage face a maximum penalty 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or both for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The FBI investigated the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and former Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Keim. Assistant United States Attorney Edward J. Canter is prosecuting the case.
The charges contained in the indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.