Nigerians arrested as US charges 80 for fraud, money laundering

Donald Trump and Muhammadu Buhari

Authorities in the United States have unsealed a 252-count grand jury indictment charging 80 people, most of them Nigerians, with participating in a conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a range of fraud schemes and laundering the funds through a Los Angeles-based network.

The US Attorney’s Office said Thursday that fourteen defendants have been arrested, mostly in the Los Angeles region.

Six others are believed to be fugitives in the US and the others are abroad, mostly in Nigeria.


Prosecutors say the schemes included frauds involving compromise of business email, romance scams and schemes targeting the elderly.

Authorities say the schemes targeted victims in the US and around the world, and some lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The suspects allegedly targeted the lovelorn, the elderly, and small and large businesses, using a variety of scams to persuade their victims to send money over the internet.

“Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly,” the Justice Department said.


The indictment alleges that at least $6 million in fraudulently obtained funds were transferred through a money-laundering network run by two Nigerians – Valentine Iro, 33, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38.

They were among those arrested.

Attempted thefts amounted to at least $40 million, it said.

“Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims,” said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.


US President Donald Trump has toughened visa issuance to Nigeria and other countries whose citizens have a track record of crime and overstaying beyond the validity of their short-term visas.

Last month, it announced visa restrictions on those involved in undermining Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections in May.

Mr Trump is also accused of referring to Nigeria and others as shithole countries during a meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office in January 2018.