BOSTON – A Nigerian national residing in Boston has been charged and has agreed to plead guilty in connection with online fraud schemes.
Macpherson Osemwegie, 32, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled by the court.
According to the charging document, Osemwegie allegedly conspired with others to participate in a series of romance and other online scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts and debit cards that Osemwegie and others controlled. Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim.
To carry out the schemes, Osemwegie and his co-conspirators used false foreign passports in others’ names to open numerous bank accounts, and in turn directed the victims to send money to these accounts.
The charge of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, restitution and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Joshua McCallister, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Jonathan Davidson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Ian Stearns of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The details contained in the court documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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