Police in the United States have issued a warrant for Neville Sajere, a Nigerian filmmaker and owner of Nevada Bridge productions, for alleged $1 million fraud.
After being charged by a grand jury on two counts of Bank Fraud and two counts of Aggravated Identity Theft, Neville was declared sought in the Northern District of Georgia in the United States of America.
Ivie Shevon Sajere, his wife, has previously been jailed for her part in a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) of over $1 million. Thousands of online applications for SSA retirement benefits and FEMA disaster benefits were falsely filed using stolen personal information as part of the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said;
“This was a massive fraud that impacted two government agencies and harmed thousands of victims across the country whose identities were stolen.
“Sajere’s prison sentence is the culmination of a complicated investigation and prosecution and serves as a cautionary tale to other fraudsters similarly minded.”
Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General, for the Social Security Administration also said;
“This sentence holds Sajere accountable for her role in this complex conspiracy to defraud the Social Security Administration, alone, of nearly seven hundred thousand dollars. She stole personal information of innocent people and used it to defraud the SSA by abusing its online services.
“My office will continue to uphold the integrity of the SSA’s online services and programs that so many Americans rely on. I thank the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, and Homeland Security Investigations, and other law enforcement agencies for joining us in this comprehensive investigation. I also thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”
According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court read: Beginning in approximately June 2017 until September 2018, the defendant and her husband, Neville Sajere, both Nigerian nationals who engaged in marriage fraud in an unsuccessful attempt to become U.S. citizens, participated in a money laundering scheme that defrauded nearly a million dollars from SSA and FEMA.
Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said;
“Anyone with malicious intent can cause widespread damage to victims, and in this case, the defendant orchestrated an identity theft spree that resulted in the defrauding of two agencies that provide substantial assistance to individuals in need.
“This scheme highlights the importance of national collaboration when it comes to combatting identity theft, and I thank our law enforcement partners for their essential assistance with this investigation.”
The scheme involved unknown fraudsters filing applications for Social Security retirement benefits and FEMA disaster relief benefits using stolen personal information. The individual victims whose personal information was stolen were often individuals highly acclaimed in their fields. It appears that these individuals were targeted because, even though they were of retirement age, they had not filed for SSA retirement benefits and did not need disaster benefit relief. Thus, the fraudsters had a better chance of getting the applications approved. The victims included a movie director, an award-winning journalist, the daughter of a legendary movie director, and a highly esteemed academic.
Once an application was approved, the fraudsters directed that the funds be deposited onto a Green Dot debit card opened using other stolen personal information. As soon as the money hit the Green Dot debit card, the defendant generated payments through Square, Stripe, and PayPal to Nevada Bridge TV, a Nigerian streaming service/television production company owned by the defendant’s husband; BAGMA, an African gospel award show business owned by the defendant’s husband; and Shevonz, a clothing store owned by the defendant.
Ivie Shevon Sajere (a/k/a Ivie Shevon Owubo), 38, Suwanee, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., to two years, six months in prison. She was also ordered to pay $949,616.40 in restitution to SSA and FEMA. Ivie was remanded into custody at the close of the sentencing hearing to begin her sentence. Because she is not a United States citizen, she is likely to be deported after she completes her sentence. Ivie pleaded guilty on November 30, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The government’s case against her husband, Neville Sajere, is ongoing as he “appears to have fled the United States and avoided prosecution.” according to court filings.