Nigerian Nationals Charged With Extensive Bank Fraud

One Formerly Worked As TD Bank Teller

Keith Griffin

June 16, 2020

Police crime scene

Sure, most of us know not to answer emails from deposed Nigerian princes. Two Nigerian nationals, though, were charged with wire fraud in connection with defrauding victims using various online scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a Boston Globe article, the US Attorney’s office for Massachusetts said that Nosayamen Iyalekhue, 33, and Esogie Osawaru, 27, had been charged with wire fraud. A complaint filed in court last week alleges that at least 11 different victims wired more than $400,000 to the men over three years.

Prosecutors claim Iyalekhue used his former position as a TD Bank teller to access accounts using other names, such as “Jude Ekanem” and “Milk Anthony.”

According to the criminal complaint, Iyalekhue and Osawaru participated in a series of romance, pandemic unemployment insurance, and other online scams designed to defraud victims by convincing them to send money to accounts controlled by the defendants. To carry out the scams, the defendants allegedly used false foreign passports in the names of others, but with their photos, to open numerous bank accounts, and in turn directed the victims to send money to these accounts.

Iyalekhue and Osawaru then rapidly withdrew the victims’ money from various bank branches and ATMs, often multiple times during a single day, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney’s office. It is alleged that the schemes included collecting unemployment insurance in the name of others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Globe article said though Iyalekhue lost his job with TD Bank after security officials became aware that he was improperly accessing accounts in July 2019, the men continued the scams using accounts opened at several banks around the state, prosecutors said.

Jane Peachy, a public defender assigned to represent Iyalekhue, declined to comment on the specific allegations. She said the court document filed by prosecutors contain "no suggestion that my client was the one actually contacting the purported victims.” A lawyer representing Osawaru could not immediately be reached.

Iyalekhue was previously arrested by Dedham police on Feb. 24 after an employee at an Eastern Bank branch in the city alerted police as he attempted to withdraw money, according to the complaint. Prosecutors allege that the money came from an elderly woman in Scurry, Texas who believed she was helping a man pay for customs fees.

Both men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, along with as much as three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to to $250,000 or twice any amount they are found to have taken from victims.

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