US court gives fraudster 7-year jail sentence following attempted $2m scam

A US federal judge has sentenced a Houston-based man to a 7-year jail sentence for his role in trying to steal over $2m from victims through romance scams and spoofed emails.

According to Cyberscoop, the judge has ordered Nigerian-born Akhabue Ehis Onoimoimilin to pay back almost $900,000 to the victims of the money laundering scheme for which he pleaded guilty.

Onoimoimilin and a co-defendant were indicted for causing $1.7m in losses from the scheme, with the former’s role involving opening bank accounts in the name of ‘David Harrison’ to launder money for co-conspirators. Prosecutors found Onoimoimilin had opened the accounts in 2015.

While ransomware attacks have mostly taken a lot of the public attention as of late, there has been less focus on other areas – specifically romance and confidence scams – which accounted for around $600m in losses in 2020, according to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report.

Meanwhile, business email compromise scams accounted for $1.8bn in total losses, according to the same report. This was compared to $29.1m for ransomware – a topic that has received a lot more attention recently.

Homeland Security Investigation’s San Antonio Division acting special agent Tim Tubbs said, “The types of fraud committed by Mr. Onoimoimilin not only have lasting ramifications for the affected victims, but also threaten the integrity of our country’s financial systems,”.

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