Nigeria never ceases to amaze me. It was only a few years ago that I was reading the story of some Nigerians on trial in Alabama for for running a big time check fraud operation, in which they used Nigeria’s name as part of the pitch for their scam. I also remember thinking how sad it is that the acts of some ignorant fools bring our country into disrepute and give the rest of us good, hard working, decent Nigerians everywhere a bad name.
Fast forward a few years later, and one of those fraudsters, Okwudili Umenyiora, having allegedly turned jailhouse informant snitch, gets released from federal prison on March 9th 2006. According to the Baldwin County, Alabama Corrections Center database, he gets re-arrested the same day and later released, but then the official trail goes cold, and the site lists him status as being that of a ‘Fugitive From Justice’.
Incidentally, that’s not his first brush with the long arm of the law, it seems he’s been a career criminal for over a decade as this mugshot from 2001 attests. Back then his offenses included ‘obstructing a police officer’ , ‘Giving
a false name or information’ and ‘Driving while license is suspended.
A federal jury Monday convicted a Nigerian man of two counts of bank fraud for a scam authorities say involved more than a million dollars in altered corporate checks.
Oluyomi Oshinaike's role in the multistate scheme, according to the charges, involved two checks totaling more than $227,000.
Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr. scheduled Oshinaike's sentencing for Feb. 15. Under advisory sentencing guidelines, he faces a prison term of at least 2Ã‚Â½ years and as much as 3 years and a month.
Okwudili "Cowboy" Umenyiora, who already has pleaded guilty to bank fraud, testified that he convinced Oshinaike to recruit people who were willing to allow checks to be deposited into their bank accounts.
"His job was to go out and find the accounts," he testified.
Umenyiora testified the account holders would be told a cover story similar to solicitations many people get via e-mail. The tale would be a variation of the theme that a person in Nigeria needed help getting money into the United States. Assistant U.S. Attorney E.T. Rolison said during his closing argument that it is a classic Nigeria scam.
"The reason you call it that is because they say, 'My father is in Nigeria.' They come up with that story," he said.
Umenyiora testified that he would pay a postal worker at a mail-sorting center in Atlanta $500 each for corporate bank checks. He said he did not know the man's name, but a man by the name of Andrew Bryant Gunn has pleaded guilty in federal court in Atlanta in connection with the plot and will be sentenced next month.
Umenyiora told jurors he would take the checks to a man named Guy Taylor, who would change the payee line. Umenyiora said he would then give the checks to partners who would in turn deposit them into bank accounts.
The bank account holder would be allowed to keep 15 percent of the value of the check, Umenyiora said. Taylor would get 10 percent and the postal worker was paid 10 percent to 15 percent, he testified.
Mobile resident Rosa Gullett testified that she agreed to allow Oshinaike, whom she knew as "Abdul," to use her account. She said she met Oshinaike through her sister, who was dating him at the time. Her mother, Kim Williams, testified that she allowed him to use her account, too.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Linda Jensen attacked the witnesses' credibility. All admitted that they have criminal records. All also received deals from prosecutors in exchange for their cooperation. For Williams and Gullett, adjudication was withheld for a year, after which the charges will be dropped if they stay out of trouble. Umenyiora and co-defendant Adrian Chike Okakpu, meanwhile, got prison terms half as long as the low end of advisory sentencing guidelines.
Wonders shall never end!
Wonders shall never end!