Forbes 30 Under 30 awardee, Obinwanne Okeke, also known as Invictus Obi, has been sentenced to ten (10) years in prison for an $11 million cyberfraud scheme he orchestrated between 2015 and 2019.
Initially scheduled for October 22, 2020, his sentencing was postponed to Tuesday.
Having pleaded guilty in June to the allegation of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Okeke had agreed to cooperate with American authorities. His deal with the U.S. government saw a second count charge of wire fraud withdrawn.
According to a document released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, “this sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cybercriminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”
Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims.Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others, and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes,” Raj further stated.
From Forbes 30 Under 30 to Jailed Fraudster
Okeke has a degree in International Studies and Forensic Criminology as well as a Masters of International Relations and Counter-Terrorism Studies from Monash University in Australia. He founded the Invictus Group based in Nigeria with purported operations in South Africa and Zambia.
The Group claimed to have diversified business interests cutting across oil and gas, construction, energy solutions, technology and agriculture.
Earning plaudits from home and abroad, Okeke was regularly featured in both local and international media and named on the Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 for 2016. He was also featured on the cover of the magazine’s June 2016 30 under 30.
In 2017, Okeke emerged as a finalist for CNBCA Young Business Leader of the Year (West Africa) as his profile continued to rise.
Before his arrest by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Okeke had been accused of running a cyber fraud scheme which incurred approximately $11 million in known losses to his victims. This included hundreds of unsuspecting people in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Investigations revealed that he and his accomplices had been siphoning large sums through an email phishing scheme targeted at Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment.
Okeke connived with other conspirators to defraud the company of about $11 million which was transferred overseas.
The Nigerian entrepreneur was also reported to have conducted other forms of cyber fraud including creating fraudulent web pages, sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, and causing other losses to numerous victims over a period of 4 years ending 2019.
“The FBI will not allow cybercriminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office.
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