By Doris Israel Ijeoma
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Maryland District has announced the arrest of 10 individuals on February 7.
The arrests, made at various locations throughout Maryland, were related to an alleged money laundering conspiracy involving over $9.5 million in proceeds from fraud schemes.
Among those arrested are believed to be at least two individuals from Nigeria.
The operation involved the participation of law enforcement agents from Homeland Security Investigations Mid-Atlantic El-Dorado Task Force, the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
According to a statement issued by the Attorney’s Office, three search warrants were executed in connection with the investigation. Additional suspects are reported to be at large.
The arrested individuals, named in two indictments unsealed upon their apprehension, include Adanegbe Gift Osemwenkhae, Emily Gil Arias, Fatoumata Boiro, Lakeisha Parker, Martin Ogisi, Blondel Ndjouandjouaka, Kevin Colon, Lorena Perez Herrera, Yahye Sowe, and Areal El-Lovieta Harris.
Following their arrests, the defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Austin in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. While some consented to detention, others were detained pending hearings scheduled for February 9, 2024. The remaining defendants were released on conditions under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
The indictments allege that the defendants and their co-conspirators established and utilized shell businesses to open bank accounts, using aliases or stolen identities. These accounts were used to receive funds obtained from various fraud victims, including government agencies, organizations, and companies.
The defendants are accused of deceiving victims into sending money based on false pretenses, such as providing false bank account information for legitimate vendor payments or wire transfer information for legitimate transactions. They allegedly engaged in financial transactions to conceal the nature and source of the fraudulently obtained funds.
Some of the fraud proceeds were reportedly used to purchase vehicles, some of which were intended to be shipped outside the United States. The indictment further alleges that the defendants conducted international financial transactions, sending fraud proceeds overseas.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy and each count of money laundering. The investigation involved collaboration between various law enforcement agencies and assistance from local police departments.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the investigating agencies for their work and thanked the prosecuting attorneys and support staff involved in the cases.