Nigerian pleads guilty to $500k wire fraud in the US

A United States federal court has convicted Wiseman Oputa, a Nigerian, for stealing at least $500,000 through wire fraud and internet scams.

The US attorney’s office of the southern district of Texas announced that the court convicted Oputa on a one-count charge of wire fraud.

The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to opening a number of bank accounts in the area surrounding Houston, using counterfeit passports, through which he stole the money.

Recently, Obinna Obioha, a 31-year-old Nigerian,also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and participating in a schemeto hack into computers and email accounts in the US for the purpose of stealing money from American companies.

NAN reports that once the accounts were created, Oputa and his associates conducted a number of internet scams.

The victims sent at least a total of $500,000 to these bank accounts via checks and wire transfers, which Oputa and his associates controlled.

He would then “use the bogus passports to withdraw the money from the accounts”.

Oputa is scheduled to be sentenced on July 6 and faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a potential maximum fine of $250,000.

US attorney Abe Martinez, said, “A 25-year-old Nigerian man who was residing in Houston has pleaded guilty to perpetuating a wire fraud scheme involving various Internet scams.

“Wiseman Oputa pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

“Beginning Jan. 1, 2016, until Jan. 25, 2017, Oputa used counterfeit passports to open bank accounts in the greater Houston area. The passports contained photographs of Oputa but had different names and identification information. He then worked with others to lure victims into sending money into these bank accounts.

“These funds were obtained through a variety of internet scams, including business email compromise, romance schemes and unauthorised intrusions into company email accounts. Checks or wire transfers were then sent from the company’s accounts payable to accounts Oputa or others controlled. Oputa would then use the counterfeit passports to retrieve the fraudulently obtained funds.

He noted that in one instance in December 2016, Oputa opened an account at Regions Bank with a counterfeit Ghanaian passport as identification.

“Shortly thereafter the account received a wire transfer of $40,000 from a victim who had been told to send money for taxes on money he had won in Spain. USAA Bank identified the fraudulent and was able to recall the wire.

“U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett accepted the guilty plea and has set sentencing for July 6, 2017. At that time, Oputa faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. He will remain in custody pending that hearing.”

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