WICHITA, KAN. – Five men indicted in federal court in Kansas are among hundreds of defendants charged in an international fraud investigation, according to U.S. Attorney Stephan McAllister.
King Bassey Essien, 26, Wichita, Kan., Franklin Ogochukwu Okapu, 20, Wichita, Kan., Oluwatimileyin Aloaye Frederick Diyaolu, 21, Wichita, Kan., Emmanuel Oluwaseun Daramola, 22, Wichita, Kan., and Abasiakara Ime Ekanem, 22, Nigeria, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment alleges the defendants received money from victims of fraud in the United States and foreign countries. The frauds took many forms including romance scams and investment scams designed to cause victims to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by the defendants and others. The defendants would transfer the money to other accounts, primarily in Nigeria and Ghana. The defendants also transferred money among themselves, received transfers and made cash withdrawals.
The indictment alleges: Essien’s account received cash depots of more than $190,000, international wire transfers of more than $120,000 and domestic wire transfers of more than $88,000. Two-thirds of the money was transferred to bank accounts in Nigeria and Ghana.
Okapu’s accounts received cash deposits of more than $67,000 and total deposits of more than $337,000, including domestic transfers, money orders and cashier’s deposits. Diyaolu’s accounts received total deposits of more than $572,000. Three-quarters of the money was transferred to bank accounts in Nigeria.
Daramola’s accounts received total deposits of more than $283,000. More than two-thirds of the money was transferred to bank accounts in Nigeria.
Ekanem’s accounts received total deposits of more than $208,000. Almost half the money was withdrawn as cash.
Together, the defendants are alleged to have transferred more than $923,000 to an unindicted conspirator in Lagos, Nigeria, and more than $211,000 to another unindicted conspirator in Lagos, Nigeria.
The defendants in Kansas were among more than 280 people arrested in the United States and overseas as a result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of State.
The investigation targeted many kinds of scams including so-called romance scams that obtain money from victims by claiming their loved ones need funds, and investment scams that seek money from victims seeking business opportunities.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $500,000. The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Smith is prosecuting.