Four Defendants Face Federal Charges in an Alleged Business Email Compromise Scheme Involving Over $4 Million in Fraudulent Bank Transactions
(STL.News) A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging four defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Charged in the indictment are:
Raissa Kaossele, age 22, of Baltimore, Maryland;
Damilola Ojo, age 29, of Pikesville, Maryland;
Victor Ojo, age 28, of Edgewood, Maryland;
Jamelia Thompson, age 29, of Pikesville, Maryland.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”).
According to the allegations in the eight-count indictment, from April 2016 to May 2019, the defendants allegedly executed a business email compromise scheme (“BEC scheme”). The defendants compromised email accounts of individual and business victims, which they used to send fraudulent payment instructions to financial institutions or business associates to misappropriate funds.
The indictment alleges that the defendants used the stolen identifying information of individual victims to obtain Employer Identification Numbers and state business certificates in the name of shell businesses.
As alleged in the indictment, the defendants also obtained legitimate checks written on the accounts of payor business victims and made payable to payee business victims. The defendants allegedly altered the name of the payee on some checks and deposited the stolen checks into bank accounts they opened and controlled. Further, the indictment alleges the defendants and other conspirators then withdrew the unlawfully deposited funds from the accounts. As alleged in court documents, the defendants and other co-conspirators conducted over $4 million in fraudulent bank transactions.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, a maximum of 30 years in prison for bank fraud, and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in federal prison consecutive to any other sentenced imposed for aggravated identity theft.
Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for their work on the investigation and thanked the Baltimore City Police Department, Baltimore County Police Department, Harford County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Dulles International Airport for their assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Setzer and Paul A. Riley, who are prosecuting the federal case.
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