Four people, including two men from Georgia, face charges after federal prosecutors said they defrauded numerous victims — one of which was an intergovernmental organization headquartered in New York — out of millions in a cybercrime scheme.
Cyril Ashu, 34, and Ifeanyi Eke, 32, both of Austell, and Joshua Ikejimba, 24, and Chinedu Ironuah, 32, both from Texas, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection with the “wide-ranging business email compromise” scheme, according to Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The scheme started in 2016 and lasted through July 2018, Berman said. He said the four men tricked “various victims” into diverting commercial payments to bank accounts they controlled instead of to the businesses that were supposed to receive them.
Berman said the men registered shell companies with fraudulent identification documents they obtained using fake names. They opened fake accounts at banks throughout the country, he said. Then, they would send emails to victims with instructions about how to wire money to their fake businesses, Berman said.
“Victims were successfully tricked into wiring funds in accordance with fraudulent wiring instructions sent from fake email accounts, which were designed to resemble email accounts for individuals and companies with whom those victims had business relationships,” he said.
An indictment lists a slew of aliases each man assumed in connection with the alleged scheme. It said the men withdrew the funds from the accounts by writing cashier’s checks and cashing them at facilities in Houston, where two of the accused conspirators live.
“As alleged, these four men and others engaged in a profitable charade, posing as legitimate business counterparties to their victims, whom they deceived into sending them millions of dollars,” Berman said.
Ashu is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft. He and Eke were arrested in Atlanta on Wednesday. Ikejimba was arrested in Houston on Tuesday. Authorities have not found Ironuah, Berman said.
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