The FBI said the suspect committed the alleged offence in the U.S state of New York.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI) has declared a Nigerian, Chidozie Collins Obasi, wanted over $31m fraud.
The security agency said the 29-year-old suspect perpetrated the fraud from Nigeria, with the help of co-conspirators in Canada and elsewhere.
As contained in a statement by the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, US Attorney, Jacqueline Romero said Obasi has been charged with one count conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, six count of mail fraud, and 16 counts of wire fraud.
How it started: According to the FBI, Obasi is wanted for operating a multi-faceted scheme that led to illegal attainment of over $31 million, with the largest chunk of the proceeds coming from the State of New York for the intended purchase of ventilators.
The suspect, alongside his co-conspirators, initiated the scheme around 2018 by launching a spam email campaign that offered illegitimate “work from home” jobs to the unsuspecting public.
Obasi and his co-conspirators from Canada then posed as a representative of a legitimate company, often a supposed medical equipment supplier based outside the United States, and offered the responder to the phone job offer an employment as the company’s U.S. representative with responsibilities including collecting on outstanding invoices.
“A co-conspirator in Canada then sent the new “employee” counterfeit checks purportedly from customers of the company, and the new “employee” deposited the checks, took a commission, and wired the rest of the money to a foreign bank account ostensibly owned by the fake company. As alleged in the Indictment, Obasi and his co-conspirators obtained more than $1 million in this manner,” the FBI explained in a statement.
The biggest scheme: The FBI alleged that Obasi pulled off an even expansive scheme around 2020 when he defrauded the New York State of $30 million by posing as a ventilator seller during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The indictment read that the suspect, posing as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company, offered ventilators for sale and claimed to have a large stockpile of ventilators manufactured by a German company whose headquarters was in Telford, PA.
“The defendant allegedly convinced a medical equipment broker in the U.S. to broker sales of these non-existent ventilators, and ultimately deceived the State of New York into wiring more than $30 million for the purchase of ventilators that did not exist. Obasi continued to target other potential customers with this same scam, including hospitals,”
said the FBI.
Other crimes according to the FBI: “Later, in approximately June 2020, the Indictment alleges that Obasi and his co-conspirators took advantage of the EID Loan program by using stolen identities of U.S. citizens to apply for and obtain more than $135,000 in EID Loan proceeds.
“Obasi is presently a fugitive, and the United States is seeking to locate and arrest him. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts should contact their local FBI Office.
“If caught and convicted, Obasi faces a maximum sentence of 621 years in prison, a five-year period of supervised release, and a $5,750,000 fine. Obasi also will be required to make full restitution of the more than $31,000,000 that he obtained by fraud.
“The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.”