An international fraudster, Obinwanne Okeke, better known as Invictus, who was once listed on the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30, was on Tuesday sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused approximately $11 million in known losses to his victims.
Okeke, who was on August 6, 2019, apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was later found guilty to two charges of Internet fraud in the US that caused $11m losses to his victims.
The defendant, who had investments in oil and gas, agriculture, private equity, alternative energy, telecom, and real estate, had operated his holdings under the ‘Invictus Group’ and had a presence in three countries including Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia.
The businessman, who was described as an inspiration to many Nigerian youths before he was exposed, is believed to have defrauded American citizens through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business email compromise scheme.
Last December, a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the permanent forfeiture of N235,451,969 found in his bank account.
“Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims,” said Raj Parekh, Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes.”
According to court documents, Obinwanne Okeke, 33, operated a group of companies known as the Invictus Group based in Nigeria and elsewhere. From approximately 2015 to 2019, Okeke and others engaged in collusion to conduct various computer-based frauds. The conspirators obtained and compiled hundreds of victims’ credentials, including victims in the Eastern District of Virginia.
As part of the scheme, Okeke and other conspirators engaged in an email compromise scheme targeting Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment.
In April 2018, a Unatrac executive fell prey to a phishing email that allowed conspirators to capture login credentials. The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices.
Okeke participated in the effort to victimize Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.
Additionally, Okeke engaged in other forms of cyber fraud, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims.
“The FBI will not allow cybercriminals free reign in the digital world to prey on US companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cybercriminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”
Raj Parekh, Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, announced after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.