JUST IN: Nigerian scammer arrested in $50m scheme that targeted Chicago firms


A man from Nigeria has been arrested after being accused of running a $50 million scheme that targeted Chicago companies.
Olalekan Jacob Ponle allegedly got an unnamed Chicago-based company to wire transfer more than $15 million. Another local company lost $2.3 million, but investigators believe the scheme is worth more than $50 million, reports
Sources pointed WGN Investigates to his Instagram feed which looks like a lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Here’s how prosecutors said the alleged scheme worked.
Either he or his co-conspirators were able to gain access to company’s email accounts through a phishing attack.
In one of the Chicago cases, they allegedly sent an email that appeared to be from the company’s Chief Accounting Officer to another employee ordering the a transfer.
The criminal complaint says: “The fraudulent email was almost identical to a prior, legitimate email” right down to the name on the bank account. But the account “number” was different.
Federal agents said Ponle’s scheme spanned at least 9 months last year.
During that time, one of his Instagram posts read: “Money don’t make a man, a man makes money.”
Ponle is a Nigerian national and was taken into custody in the United Arab Emirates. UAE expelled him and federal agents brought Ponle to Chicago Thursday night for an initial court appearance Friday morning.
A detention hearing is schedule for late next week.
Ponle’s arrest is coming on the heels of the arrest of another celebrated scammer, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, who was sent to the United States on Thursday from Dubai.
According to the United States Department of Justice Hushpuppi, faces 20 years’ imprisonment for suspected money laundering from his various cybercrime schemes worth $435m (N168bn).
The suspect made his initial US court appearance on Friday morning in Chicago and he was expected to be transferred to Los Angeles in the coming weeks.
Abbas, alongside his accomplices, including Olalekan Ponle (aka Woodberry), was arrested by officials of the Dubai Police and Interpol on June 10 for a series of crimes like money laundering, fraud, hacking of websites and accounts, impersonation and banking fraud.
Police said the suspects scammed over 1.9 million people in a fraudulent scheme worth $435m (N168bn). Thirteen luxury cars, estimated at N3.7bn; 21 laptops, 47 smartphones, 15 storage devices, and five hard disks containing data were recovered from the house where they were arrested.
Hushpuppi was subsequently handed over to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday and extradited to the US, where he faces criminal charges alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a US law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club.


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