Nigerian pleads guilty to coronavirus scam in US

Coronavirus test

A Nigerian who participated in a number of online financial scams to take advantage of people during the coronavirus pandemic has pleaded guilty, US federal prosecutors say.

Nosayamen Iyalekhue, 33, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston on Thursday to wire fraud.

Mr Iyalekhue and an accomplice were arrested in June. The accomplice, Esogie Osawaru, 27, pleaded guilty on November 12.

They participated in a series of romance, pandemic unemployment insurance, and other online scams designed to defraud victims by convincing them to send money to bank accounts they controlled, the US attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement.

The defendants used false foreign passports in the names of others, but with their photos, to open several bank accounts, then directed the victims to send money to these accounts.

They then quickly withdrew the victims’ money from various bank branches and ATMs, often multiple times during a single day.

The schemes included collecting unemployment insurance in the name of others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iyalekhue faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing on March 4. He is also subject to deportation proceedings, prosecutors said.