- Two US Army reservists pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud related to a $3 million scheme where the two men tricked elderly men and women into sending them money, the DOJ announced on Wednesday.
- The defendants, Joseph Iorhemba Asan Jr. and Charles Ifeanyi Ogozy, created fake emails and sometimes gained unauthorized access to business email accounts in an effort to induce victims into transferring money into their bank accounts.
- One notable victim of the two servicemen’s fraud scheme was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran’s organization.
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Two US Army reservists pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in relation to a $3 million catfishing scheme where the two defrauded victims across the country through fake romances and spoofed email addresses, the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday.
Officials said that between February 2018 and September 2019, Joseph Iorhemba Asan Jr. and Charles Ifeanyi Ogozy created several fake email addresses, used false identities, and accessed compromised business emails to “induce the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme,” according to the federal indictment of Asan and Ogozy.
One of the victims of Ogozy and Asan’s scheme included a US Marine Corps veteran’s organization.
“Using false identities, email compromises, and fake schemes to scam others out of money are clear federal crimes,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. “But the fact that Mr. Asan, Jr. and Mr. Ogozy, who themselves voluntarily wear our Nation’s uniform and swore an oath to uphold our Constitution, also targeted a veteran’s organization adds insult to the injury endured by some of the victims. Because they chose to break the law, these two Army reservists will now be rolling along to federal prison.”
Additionally, Asan and Ogozy tricked elderly men and women into believing they were in a romantic relationship. The two are alleged by the DOJ to have then convinced their fake-suitors into transferring money into Asan and Ogozy’s bank accounts.
To launder the money, Asan and Ogozy opened multiple bank accounts under the names of fake businesses that they concocted: Uxbridge Capital LLC, Renagade Logistics LLC, and Eldadoc Consulting LLC. The two then laundered the proceeds to each other and other conspirators in Nigeria. A significant portion of the laundered portions was withdrawn in cash and was not able to be traced by members of law enforcement.
“U.S. Army reservists Joseph Asan and Charles Ogozy admitted today to their roles in an internet fraud scheme to bilk victims across the country of over $3 million,” said Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. “The defendants and their co-conspirators callously victimized older men and women and even a Marine Corps veterans association in their business email compromises and online romance scams. I thank the FBI and U.S. Army CID for their assistance in holding these reservists accountable for their dishonorable conduct.”
According to the DOJ, Ogozy is scheduled for sentencing on April 14, 2021 while his co-conspirator, Asan, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 21, 2021. The maximum sentence for wire fraud and bank fraud is 30 years in prison.