The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has declared a 29-year-old Nigerian, Chidozie Collins Obasi, wanted for an alleged $30m fraud.
How did the fraud happen?
Posing as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company, according to the FBI, Obasi defrauded the State of New York at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, under the pretense of supplying the state with ventilators. Having been convinced that the company had a large stockpile of ventilators manufactured by a German company, the state was said to have wired $30m for the purchase of the “non-existent” ventilators.
Internet of risks The FBI statement also highlighted the many risks on the internet, as Obasi – in collusion with others – is alleged to have also used unsuspecting remote job seekers to execute scams of more than $1m. Obasi and a co-conspirator are alleged to have offered phony work-from-home jobs to US citizens in September 2018 and obtained more than $1m through that means. Unsuspecting responders to the phony job offers were said to have been engaged as US representatives of a legitimate company, “with responsibilities including collecting on outstanding invoices”.
How did they get money from that?
As part of the job duties, the new employee is said to have been sent counterfeit cheques by Obasi’s ally in Canada, with instructions to deposit the cheques. Once the deposit is done, the employee took an agreed commission, and “wired the rest of the money to a foreign bank account ostensibly owned by the fake company”. In addition to these, Obasi and his co-conspirators are alleged to have obtained “more than $135,000 in the COVID-19 economic injury disaster loan in June 2020”. The FBI has said that he risks a maximum sentence of 621 years in prison.