Thursday, May 23, 2024

FBI nabs Nigerian Arinze Ozor for $1m scams, using Ghanaian, Beninese passport

The FBI has docked a Nigerian-American Arinze Michael Ozor, based in Bowie Maryland for using fake passports to facilitate a money laundering conspiracy involving nearly $1 million.

Ozor, 36, has pleaded guilty to the charges of forgery or false use of a passport, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said in a release Monday.

Ozor used at least two passports to open eight so-called “drop accounts”, prosecutors said.

He took more than $976,000 from business email compromise schemes and romance fraud schemes and put it in those accounts.

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Officials say Ozor used a Ghanaian passport to open five bank accounts and a Beninese passport to open three additional accounts. The money was then largely sent to other entities involved in the schemes.

Ozor is expected to be sentenced in May. He could spend up to 10 years in prison.

Read the full statement by DOJ District of Maryland on Ozor:

Arinze Michael Ozor, age 36, of Bowie, Maryland, a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria, pleaded guilty on January 3, 2020, to federal charges of forgery or false use of a passport, in connection with his use of false passports to open “drop accounts” for a money laundering conspiracy.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Edwin Guard of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

According to his plea agreement, Ozor, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States, used at least two fraudulent passports as part of a money laundering conspiracy to open eight “drop accounts” to receive the proceeds from fraud schemes, including business e-mail compromise schemes and romance fraud schemes. The funds deposited to the accounts were largely disseminated to other entities as part of the conspiracy by Ozor and others.

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Specifically, Ozor admitted that he used a Ghanaian passport in the name of Kelvin Green to open accounts at five banks between December 2017 and January 2018. Although the passport contained purported identifiers for Green, it contained Ozor’s photograph. When one of the banks froze the account due to suspicion of fraudulent activity, Ozor met with a banker to discuss regaining access to the account and presented the same Ghanaian passport in support of his request.

Ozor further admitted that from March 23, 2018 through May 1, 2018, he used a purported Beninese passport in the name of Jacob Hessou to open accounts at three additional banks. As with the Ghanaian passport, the Beninese passport contained purported identifiers for Hessou, but contained Ozor’s photograph.

The investigation found that Ozor does not have a validly issued passport from Ghana or Benin. In addition, the Kelvin Green Ghanaian passport number and the Jacob Hessou Beninese passport number were actually issued to other individuals by the respective governments and not to Green or Hessou.

More than $976,000 was involved in the money laundering conspiracy from the eight accounts opened by Ozor using the fraudulent passports.

Ozor faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

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