By Rasheed Sobowale
Thirty-two years old Nigerian, Obinwanne Okeke (popularly known as Invictus Obi) has pleaded guilty to wire frauds that caused his victims $11 million.
The United States (US) Department of Justice in a press statement on Thursday stated that Invictus Obi and other conspirators were engaged in a conspiracy from approximately 2015 to 2019 to conduct various computer based frauds.
Forbes had in 2016 extolled Okeke, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Invictus Group as one of its 30 Under 30 Africa’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs.
The Forbes article announcing Invictus Obi in 2016 reads in part; “Invictus is in construction, agriculture, oil and gas, telecoms and real estate. He has 28 permanent and 100 part-time employees across nine companies.”
The US Department of Justice, however, described his operation along with his conspirators thus; “the conspirators obtained and compiled the credentials of hundreds of victims, including victims in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere.
“As part of the scheme, Okeke and others engaged in an email compromise scheme targeting Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment.
“In April 2018, a Unatrac executive fell prey to a phishing email that allowed conspirators to capture login credentials. The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices.
“Okeke participated in the effort to victimise Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totaling nearly $11 million, which funds were transferred overseas.”
Hinting on the probable punishment for his offence, the US department said he “faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison” while the judgement would be “on October 22”.
“Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”