The 33 year old Invictus Obinwanne Okeke, founder of Invictus Group has been sentenced to a 10-year jail term for computer and wire fraud by an American court.
The Nigerian national was sentenced by Chief District Judge, Rebecca Smith in the United States on Tuesday for his involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused approximately $11m in known losses to his victims, according to the judge between 2015 and 2019.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said “Through subterfuge and impersonation, Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims.
“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes.”
As part of the scheme, Okeke and other conspirators engaged in an email compromise scheme targeting Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment.
In April 2018, a Unatrac executive fell prey to a phishing email that allowed conspirators to capture login credentials.
The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices. Invictus Obi participated in the effort to victimize Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totaling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.
Additionally, he also engaged in other forms of cyber fraud, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims. He was listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 category for his business exploits and wealth.
From 2015 to 2019, Okeke and others engaged in a conspiracy to conduct various computer-based frauds. The conspirators obtained and compiled the credentials of hundreds of victims, including victims in the Eastern District of Virginia.
What you should know About Obinwanne Okeke
- Okeke, who made it into Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 List in 2016 was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over $11 million wire fraud in 2019.
- Following his arrest, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the permanent forfeiture of Okeke’s N280,555,010 to the Federal Government.
- Okeke, through his defense lawyers, argued that he should never have been arrested and charged to court in the US because there is no evidence that he defrauded American citizens or companies.
- In recent times, the FBI has made a number of arrests of foreign nationals including Nigerians who were complicit in Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes, which led to the loss of over $6 million.
- The Nigerians are also accused of working with money launderers, romance scammers, and others involved in BEC schemes “through a complex web of witting and unwitting people in the United States and abroad.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, said, “The FBI will not allow cyber criminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies.”
He added: “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cyber criminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”