Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Frank Robey, Director of the Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, announced today that JOSEPH IORHEMBA ASAN JR. and CHARLES IFEANYI OGOZY each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with a scheme to commit fraud against victims across the United States, defraud banks, and launder over $3 million dollars in fraud proceeds. Both defendants were arrested on October 31, 2019. OGOZY pled guilty on December 22, 2020 before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III. ASAN pled guilty earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses and his case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “U.S. Army reservists Joseph Asan and Charles Ogozy admitted today to their roles in an internet fraud scheme to bilk victims across the country of over $3 million. The defendants and their co-conspirators callously victimized older men and women and even a Marine Corps veterans association in their business email compromises and online romance scams. I thank the FBI and U.S. Army CID for their assistance in holding these reservists accountable for their dishonorable conduct.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. said: “Using false identities, email compromises, and fake schemes to scam others out of money are clear federal crimes. But the fact that Mr. Asan, Jr. and Mr. Ogozy, who themselves voluntarily wear our Nation’s uniform and swore an oath to uphold our Constitution, also targeted a veteran’s organization adds insult to the injury endured by some of the victims. Because they chose to break the law, these two Army reservists will now be rolling along to federal prison.”
Director of the Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Frank Robey said: “To think that two Reserve Soldiers would perpetrate such brazen acts of fraud is beyond belief. However, for these two, greed was more important than being faithful to the trust put in them by our government, and it was their undoing. They will be held fully responsible for the acts of fraud they committed.”
According to allegations in the Complaint, the charging instruments, and other publically filed documents:
From at least in or about February 2018 through at least in or about September 2019, ASAN and OGOZY were members of the U.S. Army Reserves who participated in a scheme to commit fraud against victims across the United States, defraud banks, and launder over $3 million in fraud proceeds in bank accounts that they controlled. The funds laundered by ASAN and OGOZY were obtained primarily through (a) business email compromises, in which members of the scheme gained unauthorized access to or spoofed email accounts and impersonated employees of a company or third parties engaged in business with the company in order to fraudulently induce the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme; and (b) romance scams, in which members of the scheme deluded unsuspecting older women and men into believing they were in a romantic relationship with a fake identity assumed by members of the scheme and used false pretenses to cause the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme, including ASAN and OGOZY. Notably, one of the victims of the defendants’ scheme included a U.S. Marine Corps veteran’s organization.
In order to launder over $3 million in proceeds from those fraud schemes, ASAN and OGOZY opened several bank accounts in the names of fake businesses called Uxbridge Capital LLC, Renegade Logistics LLC, and Eldadoc Consulting LLC and received fraud proceeds in those bank accounts. ASAN and OGOZY then laundered the fraud proceeds to each other and to other co-conspirators based in Nigeria. In connection with the opening of the business bank accounts, the defendants made multiple false statements to banks about the purported legitimate business of their companies, including misrepresentations that they were involved in shipping, real estate, and public relations. In addition, a significant portion of the funds laundered by the defendants was deposited and withdrawn in cash that was not able to be traced by law enforcement.
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ASAN, 24, of Daytona Beach, Florida, and OGOZY, 31, of Hackensack, New Jersey, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
ASAN is scheduled to be sentenced on April 21, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Wood. OGOZY is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Pauley.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and Army CID. Ms. Strauss also thanked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance in the investigation.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Sagar K. Ravi is in charge of the prosecution.
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