Used car dealer wants to launder $1 million in romance scam proceeds

This story is a doozy that begins with a used car dealership. A Massachusetts man has decided to help some scammers in Nigeria with a used car dealership to help launder nefariously earned money. This included romance scams, unemployment fraud and other schemes, but the FBI was already hot on their trail.

This used car dealership was the vessel to launder funds by

A used car dealership in the UK | Steven Miric/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

According to the Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, this story began outside of Boston. Augustine Osemwegie has pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering after setting up a scheme using her used car dealership. Osemwegie took advantage of having a used car dealership and knowledge of vehicle auctions to launder funds from various schemes. Ejad Auto Sales operated in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Osemwegie used the dealership to hide funds he received from romance scams, pandemic unemployment fraud and other fraudulent schemes. He accepted various products from his clients and took a percentage of the money for his “fee” to launder the money for others.

Then he would use the money to buy used cars at auction, which he believed were for his customers. Osemwegie would ship the vehicles out of the country, often to Nigeria, and resell the cars for a profit. The full FBI affidavit is available here.

Osemwegie had concocted a whole scheme with the used car dealership where he got 10% of the proceeds

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Quelqu’un a compris le stratagème et a décidé de signaler Osemwegie au ministère de la Justice. En septembre 2020, Osemwegie a parlé à un agent d’infiltration. Tout au long de ces appels et réunions enregistrés, Osemwegie a accepté d’accepter les produits frauduleux de l’agent. Après cela, il transférait l’argent hors du pays et l’utilisait pour acheter une berline de luxe d’occasion.

“Le produit des ventes au Nigeria a ensuite été versé à d’autres co-conspirateurs, permettant aux personnes impliquées dans le complot de contourner la détection et la réglementation de leurs transferts de fonds par le système bancaire”.

Affidavit du FBI | Cas 1:21-mj-04302-DHH

Pour la plupart, Osemwegie recevait les fonds d’un escroc, achetait une voiture et rendait l’argent aux escrocs, moins des frais de 10% pour ses services.

Ce type de fraude financière ou de blanchiment d’argent est passible d’une peine pouvant aller jusqu’à 20 ans de prison pour chaque accusation. Cela comprend trois ans de libération surveillée et une amende de 250 000 $. Finalement, Osemwegie a plaidé coupable à un chef d’accusation de blanchiment d’argent.

La valeur des véhicules a dépassé 1 million de dollars quand tout a été dit et fait

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The FBI affidavit indicates that Osemwegie had multiple bank accounts in his or his family’s name. He also used fake passports to open bank accounts where profits could be placed undetected. He would then transfer the funds from Massachusetts to Nigeria, where he had a variety of co-conspirators to aid him. These co-conspirators would receive the funds and charge a 15% fee.

According to US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Ejad Auto Sales exported 183 vehicles from the United States to Nigeria. Two cars went to Cotonou, Benin. The total value of exported cars was $1,117,320, bringing the average used car price to around $6,105. Between October 2018 and June 2020, Osemwegie used its name to export 33 vehicles to Nigeria. The total value of these vehicles was $163,055, or an average of $4,941.

As Chase Bank reported, some of Ejad Auto Sales’ fraudulent scheme totals include $120,000 in auto auction purchases or export costs. Over $57,000 in cash was deposited and over $35,000 in money orders were deposited. Augustine Osemwegie is awaiting sentencing for her guilty plea.

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