Federal prosecutors today unsealed a 252-count indictment against 80 individuals – mostly Nigerian nationals – who allegedly conspired to bilk at least $46 million from victims via romance scams, business email compromises and other online fraud schemes.
The grand jury indictment was filed in the Central District of California back in October 2018 and unsealed only after the arrest this morning of 14 defendants in the U.S. – 11 in the Los Angeles area, the apparent epicenter of the scam. Two others were placed in federal custody prior to the law enforcement crackdown, and another was arrested earlier this week. The remaining 63 individuals are believed to be abroad, with most in Nigeria.
A press release issued by the Department of Justice identify the lead defendants as fellow Nigerian citizens Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, California and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, California. The pair, both of whom were arrested, allegedly coordinated the management of funds accumulated by the operation and spearheaded a worldwide money-laundering network that elicited the help of money mules who set up fraudulent bank accounts and illicit money exchangers who moved monies overseas.
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