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Three Additional Members Of Money Laundering Ring Charged

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Patrick Freaney, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service (“Secret Service”), William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Troy Miller, Director of New York Field Operations for United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), announced today the unsealing of a Superseding Indictment charging SUNDAY OKORO, COLLINS ENEH, and IKECHUKWU ELENDU with money laundering and bank fraud schemes.  The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Denise L. Cote.  SUNDAY OKORO will be presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Middle District of Georgia tomorrow and IKECHUKWU ELENDU will be presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of California tomorrow.  A third defendant, COLLINS ENEH, remains at large.  A prior Indictment in the case charged 11 additional defendants.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, three more defendants have been implicated in a conspiracy to launder the criminal proceeds of schemes to defraud corporate and individual victims of multiple millions of dollars.  Thanks to the efforts of the Secret Service, the FBI, CBP, and Special Agents of my Office, the defendants face federal charges.”           

Secret Service Deputy Special Agent in Charge Patrick Freaney said:  “The U.S. Secret Service is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to combat cyber-enabled fraud.  The continued success of this investigation is the result of this collaborative effort and highlights the relentless investigative pursuit by the U.S. Secret Service and our partners as we address the ever evolving threat posed by cyber-crime.”    

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The threat of a business email compromise is a cyber iceberg that will inflict serious losses on a victim company.  This type of cyber threat is a constant hazard lurking below the surface to every business, regardless of its size, and many cannot sustain the damage it will cause.  Companies small and large should continue to educate their workforce on cyber threats.  Well done to the investigative teams involved in bringing today’s charges.”

CBP Director of New York Field Operations Troy Miller said:  “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is proud of the expertise we provide in support of investigations that result in the takedown of criminal enterprises.  It is through interagency partnerships and collaborative efforts, like the one leading to today’s arrests, that law enforcement successfully combats today’s criminal organizations.”

According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment unsealed today in federal court:[1]

From at least in or about March 2018 up to and including at least in or about January 2020, OKORO, ENEH, and ELENDU conspired to launder the proceeds of at least seven business email compromise schemes and one romance scheme in which corporate, organizational, and individual victims were fraudulently induced to send over $10 million to bank accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy, in the mistaken belief that those accounts belonged to the intended recipients of the funds.  Members of the conspiracy received the victim funds by opening bank accounts in the names of the intended recipients, transferred the funds through additional accounts to hide the origin and fraudulent nature of the proceeds, and ultimately transferred most of those proceeds to foreign bank accounts or withdrew them in cash.

*                *                *

OKORO, ENEH, and ELENDU are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge. 

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the Secret Service and its Electronic Crimes Task Force, CBP, and special agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jun Xiang and Kevin Mead are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendant

Age

Hometown

Charges

SUNDAY OKORO

41

Jonesboro, GA

Money laundering conspiracy; bank fraud conspiracy

COLLINS ENEH

32

Long Beach, CA

Money laundering conspiracy; bank fraud conspiracy

IKECHUKWU ELENDU

41

San Leandro, CA

Money laundering conspiracy; bank fraud conspiracy


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Superseding Indictment and the description of the Superseding Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

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