BOSTON, MASS – A Nigerian national was sentenced yesterday in connection with defrauding victims using various online scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nosayamen Iyalekhue, 33, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. In November 2019, Iyalekhue pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Iyalekhue was arrested in June 2020 along with a co-defendant, Esogie Osawaru, 27, who pleaded guilty in November 2020.
Iyalekhue and Osawaru participated in a series of romance, pandemic unemployment insurance, and other online scams designed to defraud victims by convincing them to send money to accounts controlled by the defendants. To carry out the scams, the defendants used false foreign passports in the names of others, but with their own photos, to open numerous bank accounts, and in turn directed the victims to send money to these accounts. Iyalekhue and Osawaru then rapidly withdrew the victims’ money from various bank branches and ATMs, often multiple times during a single day. The schemes included collecting unemployment insurance in the name of others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Osawaru is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2021.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Miron Bloom of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.