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Two Nigerian relatives indicted for fraud, COVID-19-related scam in US

Two Nigerian nationals have been indicted in connection with their roles in expansive online fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States, including romance scams and pandemic unemployment assistance fraud, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement.

Osakpamwan Henry Omoruyi, 36, and Osaretin Godspower Omoruyi, 34, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.

Although the defendants were first charged with criminal complaints in March, they were only indicted last week.

According to the charging documents, the defendants, along with other co-conspirators, allegedly participated in a series of romance and other online scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts and debit cards they controlled.

The Nigerian duo allegedly used fake passports in the names of others to open numerous bank accounts and directed victims to send money to these accounts. They allegedly used the accounts to collect fraudulent pandemic unemployment benefits in the names of beneficiaries who did not apply for such benefits.

Osakpamwan and Osaretin were amongst six people that were charged in three criminal complaints in connection with their roles in expansive online fraud schemes in March 2021.

The defendants allegedly participated in a series of romance and other online scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts and debit cards controlled by them.

They risk a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and forfeiture if found guilty.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.

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