In what can be seen as another dent on Nigeria’s image worldwide, a federal grand jury in Seattle, Washington, has indicted another citizen o the largest black nation in the world.
This time, the culprit is one Chukwuemeka Onyegbula. He was accused of alleged conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, The Cable reports.
This indictment was announced by Tessa Gorman, acting US attorney for the western district of Washington.
The culprit has been identified as an information technology (IT) engineer with Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, allegedly committed the crime using the alias, ‘Phillip Carter’.
He was arrested on June 3, and is said to be currently detained in Nigeria. It is not yet clear if he will be extradited to the US for trial, Punch Newspaper added.
The Nigerian was reportedly linked to at least 253 fraudulent unemployment insurance filings in Washington, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Nevada, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Along with his co-conspirators, he was alleged to have accessed the COVID-19 economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) page on the small business administration’s website and submitted applications for loans using the “stolen” personal identifiable information (PII) of US residents.
While about $290,000 was said to have been paid out in unemployment claims, an additional $54,000 was allegedly paid out in fraudulent COVID-19 loans.
Criminals on the run
Recall that most of the young men in Nigeria with questionable source of living are currently on the run. According to the report, the men are leaving the country in droves days after the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, vowed to fish out Nigerians indicted in the recent United States wire scam.
While many have gone underground, those with the means have fled to some West African nations and even beyond the sub-region to evade arrest.
An ex-convict, Okechukwu Madu who was recently deported to Nigeria after serving five years jail term in UK over internet fraud said that EFCC will take advantage of the FBI alert to arrest small-time players.
“In Nigeria, if you know your game, EFCC will not arrest you. We have gotten information on the people that they are looking for and most of them are out already. If you hear that they caught anyone, it must be these small-time players. The big boys are the investors and most of them are spread across African countries; all they need is a computer and link to their accomplices.”
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