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Nigerian Man Sentenced To 66 Months Jail Term in the U.S For Business Email Compromise Scams

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The Scams Perpetrated by Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa and His Co-Defendants Resulted in More Than $2.5 Million in Losses
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHIBUNDU JOSEPH ANUEBUNWA was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 66 months in prison for his role in fraudulent business email compromise scams that targeted thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States. Collectively, the scams attempted to defraud victims of over $3.5 million, resulting in over $2.5 million in actual losses to victims.

On June 29, 2023, ANUEBUNWA pled guilty to participating in a wire fraud conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty, who imposed today’s sentence. In connection with the same conspiracy as ANUEBUNWA, co-defendant DAVID CHUKWUNEKE ADINDU was previously sentenced to 41 months in prison, and co-defendant ONYEKACHI EMMANUEL OPARA was previously extradited from South Africa and sentenced to five years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “From halfway around the world, Chibundu Joseph Anuebunwa tried to victimize thousands of people by stealing millions of dollars using fraudulent and deceptive emails that were sent to company employees in the United States and elsewhere. He will now spend time in prison for these serious crimes. Today’s sentence should deter scammers outside of the United States who may be tempted to steal money from American victims with cyberattacks and email scams.”

According to publicly filed court documents and statements made at public court proceedings:

Between 2014 and 2016, ANUEBUNWA, OPARA, and ADINDU participated in business email compromise scams (“BEC scams”) targeting thousands of victims around the world, including in the United States. ANUEBUNWA sent bogus emails to employees of various companies directing that funds be transferred to specified bank accounts. The emails purported to be from supervisors at those companies or third-party vendors that did business with those companies. The emails, however, were not legitimate. Rather, they were either from email accounts with a domain name that was very similar to a legitimate domain name, or the metadata in the emails had been modified so that the emails appeared as if they were from legitimate email addresses.

After victims complied with the fraudulent wiring instructions, the transferred funds were quickly withdrawn or moved into different bank accounts. In total, the BEC scams attempted to defraud the victims of over $3.5 million, resulting in over $2.5 million in actual losses to victims.

ANUEBUNWA was arrested on March 16, 2021, in the United Kingdom and was extradited to the Southern District of New York on May 20, 2022.

In addition to the prison term, ANUEBUNWA, 30, of Lagos, Nigeria, was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Williams also thanked United Kingdom authorities and the Yahoo E-Crime Investigations Team for their assistance in the investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from the United Kingdom.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew K. Chan is in charge of the prosecution.

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