U.S. Attorney Announces Indictment Of Georgia Man For Laundering Proceeds From Fraud Schemes Perpetrated By Nigeria-Based Criminal Enterprise

3 mins read
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Patrick Freaney, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service (“USSS”), announced the indictment of UWEMEDIMO UMOREN in connection with his role in a fraud and money laundering conspiracy based in Nigeria, involving the theft of millions of dollars from victims across the United States.  UMOREN was previously arrested in Georgia on December 17, 2021.  

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “Uwemedimo Umoren, as alleged, was a member of a multimillion-dollar fraud enterprise built on the cruel exploitation of elder adults. Among other tactics, members of Umoren’s prolific fraud scheme posed as romantic interests to their victims, with the sole purpose of syphoning their bank accounts. We thank our outstanding law enforcement partners at the United States Secret Service for their continued vigilance in the effort to protect elder Americans from fraud.”      

Secret Service Special Agent-in-Charge Patrick Freaney said:  “As alleged, the defendant participated in multiple fraud schemes, including romance and investment scams that targeted some of our most vulnerable community members, the elderly.  While the defendant in this case will answer the charges brought against him in the Southern District of New York, the threat posed by those who seek to financially victimize the elderly persists.  Although elder fraud endures, the U.S. Secret Service remains vigilant in identifying and investigating those who wish to defraud the elder population out of their retirements and savings.”

According to allegations in the criminal complaint and the indictment filed against UMOREN:[1]

From at least in or about 2016 through at least in or about December 2021, the defendant was a member of a criminal enterprise (the “Enterprise”) based in Nigeria that committed a series of business email compromises and investment and romance scams against individuals and businesses located across the United States.  The objective of the Enterprise’s business email compromise fraud scheme was to trick and deceive businesses and individuals into wiring funds into accounts controlled by the Enterprise through the use of email accounts that “spoofed” or impersonated employees of a victim company or third parties engaged in business with a victim company.  The Enterprise conducted the investment scams by contacting victims by phone and email regarding purported investment opportunities that the members of the Enterprise said could generate millions of dollars in returns.  Finally, the Enterprise conducted the romance scams by using electronic messages sent via email, text messaging, or online dating websites that deluded victims, many of whom were vulnerable older men and women who lived alone, into believing the victim was in a romantic relationship with a fake identity assumed by members of the Enterprise.  Once members of the Enterprise had gained the trust of the victims, they used false pretenses to cause the victims to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by members of the Enterprise.

UMOREN received fraud proceeds from victims of the Enterprise in more than a dozen business bank accounts that he controlled in Georgia.  The business bank accounts were opened in the names of companies formed by the defendant that were purportedly involved in, among other things, automobile sales and health care.  From in or about 2016 through at least in or about December 2021, UMOREN controlled at least 15 bank accounts that received deposits totaling over approximately $8 million. 

Once UMOREN received fraud proceeds in bank accounts under his control, he withdrew, transported, and laundered those fraud proceeds to other members of the Enterprise abroad.  The defendant laundered the fraud proceeds through his businesses by, among other things, using the proceeds to purchase automobiles and other goods from U.S.-based suppliers and distributors of such products and shipping those products to Nigeria and elsewhere.  The defendant’s transactions had the appearance of legitimate business transactions when, in fact, the products had been purchased using the proceeds of fraud schemes.  This trade-based money laundering scheme was designed to obscure the origin of the fraud proceeds as well as the identity of the ultimate beneficiaries of these schemes. 

*                      *                      *

UWEMEDIMO UMOREN, 60, of Hoschton, Georgia, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the USSS.  Mr. Williams also thanked the USSS Field Office in Atlanta, Georgia, for its assistance in the investigation of this case.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Juliana N. Murray is in charge of the prosecution.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the Complaint and Indictment and the description of the Complaint and Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.