Nigerian National Sentenced to Over 10 Years for Role in International Money Laundering Scheme

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Olugbenga Lawal, a 33-year-old Nigerian national residing in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been sentenced to a decade and a month in prison, coupled with an order to pay over $1.46 million in restitution. Lawal was involved in a conspiracy to launder money from intricate internet fraud schemes. Three co-conspirators, Michael Hermann, Rita Assane, and Dwight Baines, also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Court documents and evidence presented during the trial reveal that Olugbenda Lawal was intricately linked with a Nigeria-based leader of an international criminal syndicate. This organization was responsible for duping individuals and businesses in the U.S. out of millions of dollars. The methods employed were sophisticated internet-based fraud schemes, including romance fraud and business email compromise schemes, with a notable targeting of elderly victims.

These victims, often elderly, were duped into believing they had found love online, only to be financially exploited. Lawal’s role in this elaborate scheme was pivotal; he was responsible for laundering millions of dollars procured from these fraudulent activities.

Between January 2019 and June 2020, bank accounts associated with Lawal and his accomplices received vast sums directly traceable to individuals and businesses defrauded by members of this criminal organization. Accounts under Lawal’s control saw deposits exceeding $3.6 million spread across seven different banks, either in his name or his business entity, Luxe Logistics LLC. His actions spanned across at least five different financial institutions, all contributing to the laundering process.

Lawal’s involvement extended beyond mere laundering; he converted the fraudulently obtained dollars into Nigerian currency, making them accessible in Nigeria. He facilitated this through import/export transactions, specifically shipping cars to Nigeria and engaging in currency exchange business transactions. These activities were aimed at repatriating the organization’s illicit proceeds back to Nigeria.

On August 10, 2023, Lawal’s criminal activities culminated in a conviction by a federal jury for conspiring to commit money laundering.

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