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33-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur, Obinwanne Okeke was on Tuesday sentenced to a 10-year jail term for his involvement in a computer and wire based fraud.
Mr Okeke popular known as Invictus Obi was a Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 honouree.
He had in June 2020 pleaded guilty for the fraud that that caused approximately $11 million estimated losses to victims.
“Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“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.”
The US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia provided the details of the court judgement early Wednesday morning.
Okeke, the founder of Invictus Group, has a degree in International Studies and Forensic Criminology and Masters of International Relations and Counter-Terrorism Studies from Monash University in Australia, according to his official profile.
Okeke was named on the Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 For 2016 and was featured on the magazine’s June 2016 cover. A year later, CNBCA named Okeke as a finalist for Young Business Leader of the Year (West Africa).
He was featured regularly in Nigerian and international media. Okeke also earned high praises from Nigerian politicians.
His Invictus Group claims to have investments in oil and gas, construction, energy solutions, technology and agriculture.
According to the court document, Mr Okeke operated a group of companies known as the Invictus Group based in Nigeria and elsewhere.
The conspirators obtained and compiled the credentials of hundreds of victims, including victims in the Eastern District of Virginia.
As part of the scheme, Mr 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. Okeke participated in the effort to victimise Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totaling nearly $11m which was transferred overseas.
Additionally, Okeke engaged in other forms of cyberfraud, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims.
“The FBI will not allow cyber criminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office.
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.”
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