Nigerian entrepreneur, Forbes Africa 2019 honouree, Obinwanne Okeke gets 10-year jail term in US for fraud

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A Nigerian entrepreneur and a Forbes Africa 30 under 30 honourees, Obinwanne Okeke has been sentenced to a 10-year jail term for computer and wire fraud by an American court.

Popularly known as Invictus Obi, he was found guilty of causing approximately $11 million in known losses to his victims between 2015 and 2019.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to the crimes in June.

“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.”

Okeke, the founder of Invictus Group, has a degree in International Studies and Forensic Criminology and a Masters in International Relations and Counter-Terrorism Studies from Monash University in Australia, according to his official profile.

Okeke was named on Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 for 2016 and was featured on the magazine’s June 2016 cover. A year later, CNBCA named Okeke as a finalist for Young Business Leader of the Year (West Africa).

He was featured regularly in Nigerian and international media. Okeke also earned high praises from Nigerian politicians.

His Invictus Group claims to have investments in oil and gas, construction, energy solutions, technology, and agriculture.

As part of the scheme, 33-year-old 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 victimise 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, made the announcement after sentencing by Chief US District, Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.

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