Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Babatunde Ajibawo, age 55, of Essex, United Kingdom to four years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Judge Blake has also ordered Ajibawo to pay $262,653.87 in restitution.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; and Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
According to his plea agreement, from February 2017 to February 2020, Ajibawo, Oyekanmi Oworu, age 35, of Hyattsville, Maryland and others conspired to fraudulently obtain checks made out to legitimate businesses, then fraudulently register shell companies to obtain state business certificates in the identical or similar name of the legitimate businesses to which the checks were made payable. The conspiracy also used the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Modernized Internet Employer Identification Number (EIN) and the fraudulently obtained social security numbers of real individuals to obtain an EIN for the fraudulent business.
In the effort to defraud, Ajibawo personally opened fraudulent bank accounts, deposited stolen checks into the fraudulent accounts, and withdrew the stolen funds on numerous occasions.
Specifically, in October 2018 Ajibawo opened a fraudulent account in the name of a real business, Business 1, using the identifying information of a real person, C.B. After opening the account, Ajibawo deposited a stolen check made payable to Business 1 in the amount of $18,150.66 into the fraudulent account.
Additionally, from November 2018 to April 2019, Ajibawo opened and accessed a fraudulent account in the name of another real business, Business 2, using the identifying information of a real person, B.R. After opening the account, Ajibawo deposited a stolen check made payable to Business 2 in the amount of $168,500. Surveillance footage captured Ajibawo opening and accessing the fraudulent account on numerous occasions.
Throughout the scheme to defraud, Ajibawo sent personally identifying information of victims to co-conspirators, directed that co-conspirators withdraw money from fraudulent accounts in which stolen checks had been deposited, and facilitated the distribution of stolen funds obtained from the scheme.
Additionally, in an effort to conceal their criminal activity and evade detection from law enforcement, Ajibawo and his co-conspirators attempted to relocate the fraud scheme to other jurisdictions. A substantial part of a fraudulent scheme was committed from outside the United States, specifically Nigeria.
Further, Ajibawo and his co-conspirators attempted to conceal their criminal actions and evade law enforcement by relocating the fraud scheme to other jurisdictions. A substantial part of a fraudulent scheme was committed from outside the United States, specifically Nigeria.
In total, Ajibawo and his co-conspirators created 50 fraudulent shell entities, caused an actual loss of at least $606,598.08, and compromised the identifying information of more than 50 individual victims.
Co-defendant Oyekanmi Oworu pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft on December 2, 2021. Oworu faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison followed by up to five of supervised release for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence for aggravated identity theft. As part of his plea agreement, Oworu will also be required to pay restitution. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for March 10, 2022 at 9:15 a.m.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary W. Setzer and Judson T. Mihok, who are prosecuting the case.
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