3:13 pm - Tuesday December 16, 1828

SHAMEFUL IN USA: NIGERIAN Yahoo Fugitive, BABAJIDE FADEYIBI Behind $1.3 Million ‘Mystery Shopper’ FRAUD in United States…Sets up people to cash Cashier’s Checks, Money Orders at their banks through Western Union, MoneyGram *Steals 1.3 million dollars from 500 innocent people *Deceived innocent Americans through scam email solicitation into their inbox addresses * His SIX Criminal Gang Members Convicted: Hafeez Odoffin of Chicago to spend NINE Years Two Months in Prison, Others face severe sentences * Oyeyemi Arogundade behind FAKE Checks, Money Orders originating from Nigeria * Probe reveals that fraudsters recruit people over internet to serve as Mystery Shoppers *CASE investigated by FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES

SHAMEFUL IN USA:

NIGERIAN Yahoo Fugitive, BABAJIDE FADEYIBI Behind $1.3 Million ‘Mystery Shopper’ FRAUD in United States…Sets up people to cash Cashier’s Checks, Money Orders at their banks through Western Union, MoneyGram

*Steals 1.3 million dollars from 500 innocent people
*Deceived innocent Americans through scam email solicitation into their inbox addresses
* His SIX Criminal Gang Members Convicted: Hafeez Odoffin of Chicago to spend NINE Years Two Months in Prison, Others face severe sentences
* Oyeyemi Arogundade behind FAKE Checks, Money Orders originating from Nigeria
* Probe reveals that fraudsters recruit people over internet to serve as Mystery Shoppers
*CASE investigated by FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service

BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES

A NIGERIAN, BABAJIDE FADEYIBI, an international conman, ringleader of a fraudulent group in United States is on the run, trying to evade justice. Certainly, he can only run but cannot ‘hide’ for too long till the long arms of the law catches up with him known, federal agents revealed that Fadeyibi was behind “mystery shopper” fraud that netted almost $1.3 million, called ‘Mystery Shoppers.’ Investigation confirmed that in exchange for money, innocent Americans were supposed to cash cashier’s checks and money orders at their banks and then wire part of the lump sum to other people – ostensibly to evaluate transmission services like Western Union and MoneyGram. They (innocent Americans) fell for the bait. They thought it was a legitimate gig.
It was not.

Fadeyibi, now a fugitive, federal agents claim orchestrated an international fraud ring that stole almost $1.3 million from almost 500 innocent people, including residents of South Hampton Roads.

One of the American victims Lawrence Cake of Virginia Beach, a former restaurant manager who was familiar with mystery shoppers recount ordeal:
“It all looked very legitimate,” and didn’t think twice when he saw the scam email solicitation pop into his inbox. The move cost him about $4,000.

Cake lamented: “My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach when I realized what I’d done.” Fadeyibi, the alleged ringleader, remains at large, as does one of his co-defendants, Oyeyemi Arogundade. Court documents identify both men as living in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Six other co-defendants have been convicted of crimes relating to the alleged fraud: Hafeez Odoffin of Chicago was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Newport News to nine years and two months in prison and Zoelithia Williams of Smyrna, Tenn., was sentenced to eight years and four months. Christie Easter of Fort Worth, Texas, was sentenced recently to almost nine years.

According to court documents, federal agents launched an investigation in 2012 into a large fraud scheme that appeared to have its roots in Nigeria. The scheme continued until 2014, and the indictment was returned in May 2016.

The probe determined that the fraudsters recruited innocent Americans over the internet to serve as mystery shoppers, who would then use their own bank accounts to cash counterfeit cashier’s checks and postal money orders.

Dispatchers like Williams and Easter would collect interested applicants’ personal information and then place it on counterfeit cashier’s checks and money orders to be mailed out.

After cashing the fakes, the mystery shoppers were supposed to wire some of the money to other people. That would often happen before the financial institution realized the truth, retroactively canceled the transaction and recouped the money from the shoppers’ accounts.

Cake said he was on his third batch of money orders before his bank informed him one was a fake. He said he immediately tried to contact the company to find out what had happened, only to realize too late it was all a con.

Most of the counterfeit checks and money orders were made in Nigeria, based on legitimate versions obtained in the United States. Officials alleged Arogundade was behind most of the counterfeiting.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service. Cake said he didn’t know the fraud had connections to Nigeria until the feds got involved. He said all the addresses he knew about were in Texas and the Philippines.

Cake regretted that he would have backed down if he knew the checks and money orders originated from Nigeria. He siad he probably would have thought twice about doing anything in light of all the “Nigerian prince” scams he’s heard about over the years.

He urged anyone else looking to make a few extra bucks to make sure they understand exactly what they are doing and who they are working for. Don’t do everything by email and text, he said. His advise: “Talk to somebody. I never talked to anybody, and I certainly wish I had.”

For sure these Nigerians fraudsters would be arrested in Nigeria and they will have to face the consequences of their crimes against humanity.

Filed in: Crime

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