LOS ANGELES — An Orange County man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal criminal charges for participating in a widespread multimillion-dollar conspiracy, including business email fraud, romance scam, major fraud and fraud using malware. There was some kind of fraud involved.
George Agwumba, 47, of Cypress, was convicted in Los Angeles of one count each of money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit identity theft, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
Officials said members of the conspiracy – many of whom were based in Nigeria – used middlemen to connect with co-conspirators based in the United States. According to evidence presented in the seven-day trial, US-based intermediaries either facilitated the receipt and laundering of fraudulent proceeds through US bank accounts, money transmitting services such as Western Union or MoneyGram, or cryptocurrencies.
In return, middlemen and money laundering aides received a percentage of the fraudulent funds, evidence shows.
Princewell Duru, 33, of Sacramento, was also indicted in Agwumba’s trial.
US District Judge R. Gary Klausner scheduled a sentencing hearing on October 17, at which time both defendants would face up to 22 years in federal prison.
At the center of the plot were Carson’s 33-year-old Valentine Iro, 41-year-old Chukwodi Igbokwe of Garda – both Nigerian citizens – and 41-year-old Chuks Iroha, who is believed to have fled Nigeria in 2017 shortly after being executed by the FBI . search warrant in the case
This trio of middlemen linked the fraudsters to money launderers, sometimes with other middlemen, and often used the same bank accounts to launder money. Iro and Igbokwe have pleaded guilty to the criminal charges in the case.
Egwumba acted as another middleman, obtaining bank account information from Iro and Eroha to pass on to other conspirators, and also to defraud himself using malware and other cybercrime tools. Egwumba exchanged text messages with Iro and Eroha, in which they sought and received bank account information that could be used to obtain the stolen money.
Federal prosecutors said the conspiracy involved the laundering of at least $6 million in fraudulently obtained money and attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million. So far, prosecutors have secured 19 guilty pleas in the case. Additional defendants have been arrested in Nigeria, and others are believed to be at large, according to the US Attorney’s Office.