Nigerian Gets 10 Years For Laundering Scam Funds

Written by

A Nigerian national has been jailed for 10 years and one month and ordered to pay almost $1.5m in restitution after being convicted of serious money laundering offenses.

Olugbenga Lawal, 33, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was convicted in August last year of conspiring to commit money laundering, after three co-conspirators had already pleaded guilty to the same crime.

He laundered millions of dollars generated by various internet fraud schemes including romance scams and business email compromise (BEC), according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Over a fairly short period of time – January 2019 to June 2020 – bank accounts used by Lawal and his co-conspirators apparently received millions that were traced to individual and corporate victims of these schemes.

Read more on internet fraud: BEC Attacks Surge 81% in 2022

Seven accounts opened in the name of Lawal or his business, Luxe Logistics LLC, received more than $3.6m in deposits between January 2019 and May 2020, the DoJ said. The accounts were apparently spread across five separate financial institutions to maximize his capacity for money laundering.

Lawal is said to have worked directly with the Nigerian boss of an international fraud operation, exchanging US dollars into Nigerian currency which could be accessed in the West African nation.

He also helped to launder funds by shipping cars to Nigeria, the DoJ said.

Romance fraud and BEC are among the highest earners for cybercriminals. In 2022, the former earned criminal organizations nearly $736m, according to the FBI. The DoJ claimed that many of the victims whose money Lawal laundered were elderly internet users who were cruely tricked into wiring funds to scammers they met and fell in love with.

BEC resulted in victim losses of over $2.7bn in 2022, according to the same FBI report, although the real figure is likely to be much higher, given that both crime types will be under-reported.

What’s hot on Infosecurity Magazine?