‘Nigerian Prince’ Entrepreneur Obinwanne Okeke aka ‘Invictus Obi’ faces 20 years in prison for massive business email compromise (BEC) fraud of $11 million on Caterpillar
All through 2000s we have heard stories about the Nigerian Prince who promises us of gifts worth millions of dollars through emails. It seems one such Nigerian prince was finally caught by the U.S. authorities. This particular Nigerian Prince is a Nigerian businessman named Obinwanne Okeke aka ‘Invictus Obi’ and has pleaded guilty to defrauding the tractor maker Caterpillar of $11 million through a business email compromise (BEC) fraud.
Okeke faces a prison sentence of 20 years after pleading to conspiracy to commit wire fraud that caused US Fortune 100 corporation Caterpillar $11 million in losses as part of a business email compromise (BEC) fraud scheme. Okeke was so famous in his home country that he was called ‘Invictus Obi’ and was listed in Forbes “Africa’s 30 under 30” in 2016 after founding a group of companies known as Invictus Group involved in telecoms, construction, oil and gas, agriculture, and real estate.
Okeke was one of the Nigerians who defrauded Caterpillar and others from 2015 to 2019 through various computer-based frauds according to the Department of Justice press release.
Okeke and his co-conspirators targeted a Caterpillar subsidiary, Unatrac Holding Limited after sending a phishing email to Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Okeke and his gang then stole the CFO’s Microsoft Office 365 login credentials. They used these credentials for sending fraudulent wire transfer requests to Unatrac’s financial team in the form of fake invoices and emails designed to look like they were sent by the CFO. FBI affidavit says that Okeke also added email filters to automatically mark legitimate emails as read and moved them out of the CFO’s inbox to hide any replies he got from the recipients of the fraudulent wire transfer requests containing fake invoices.
FBI began an investigation after Caterpillar requested it. Okeke pleaded guilty on June 18, 2020 and will be sentenced on October 22 when he will be facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
In other breaking news, US authorities this week announced sanctions against six Nigerian nationals for their involvement in similar business email compromise (BEC) and romance fraud schemes. The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Department of Justice announced sanctions against six Nigerian nationals, Richard Uzuh, Micheal Olorunyomi, Alex Ogunshakin, Felix Okpoh, Nnamdi Benson, and Abiola Kayode.
The USTO says that these six ‘Nigerian Princes’ stole over $6 million through BEC fraud scheme. The press release says that the scammers impersonated business executives in the attempt to trick legitimate organizations into transferring them money. It adds that these individuals also carried out romance fraud operations by using social engineering tactics to target the victims and steal usernames, passwords, and bank accounts.
Today, in a coordinated action with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action against six Nigerian nationals for conducting an elaborate scheme to steal over six million dollars from victims across the United States. The individuals designated today targeted U.S. businesses and individuals through deceptive global threats known as business email compromise (BEC) and romance fraud. American citizens lost over $6,000,000 due to these individuals’ BEC fraud schemes, in which they impersonated business executives and requested and received wire transfers from legitimate business accounts.” reads the post published by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). “Money was also stolen from innocent Americans by romance fraud, in which the designees masqueraded as affectionate partners to gain trust from victims.
It seems that the Nigerian Prince scams will stop at least for a while.