A Nigerian national, Obinwanne Okeke, was on Tuesday sentenced by a United States court to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused approximately $11 million in known losses to his victims.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, both spoke after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge, Rebecca Beach Smith.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Samuels prosecuted the case.
A statement from the US Embassy, Abuja on Wednesday morning quoted Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as saying that “through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims.
“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes.”
According to court documents, Obinwanne Okeke, 33, operated a group of companies known as the Invictus Group based in Nigeria and elsewhere.
From approximately 2015 to 2019, Okeke and others engaged in a conspiracy to conduct various computer-based frauds.
The conspirators obtained and compiled the credentials of hundreds of victims, including victims in the Eastern District of Virginia.
As part of the scheme, Okeke and other conspirators engaged in an email compromise scheme targeting Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment.
In April 2018, a Unatrac executive fell prey to a phishing email that allowed conspirators to capture login credentials. The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices. Okeke participated in the effort to victimize Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totaling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.
Additionally, Okeke engaged in other forms of cyberfraud, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims.
“The FBI will not allow cyber criminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cyber criminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”