Four Nigerians were arrested in the United Kingdom and Sweden for allegedly committing cyber fraud and theft of public money in the United States.
This was made known in a press release by the US Department of Justice on Monday, adding that each defendant risks at least a 20-year imprisonment if found guilty.
According to DOJ, the defendants – Akinola Taylor, Olayemi Adafin, Olakunle Oyenbanjo and Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe were also indicted for aggravated identity theft and their crime was transnational in nature.
The statement said, “The United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the unsealing of four indictments charging Akinola Taylor (Nigeria), Olayemi Adafin (United Kingdom), Olakunle Oyebanjo (Nigeria), and Kazeem Olanrewaju Runsewe (Nigeria), with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, filing false claims with the United States, theft of public money or property, and aggravated identity theft.
“Taylor, Adafin, and Runsewe were each arrested on November 30, 2022, and Oyebanjo was arrested on December 1, 2022. Taylor, Adafin, and Oyebanjo were apprehended in London, United Kingdom, and Runswewe was apprehended in Malmo, Sweden. Each will face extradition proceedings. In conjunction with the arrests, foreign authorities conducted searches of the residences of Taylor and Runsewe.”
“If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud count, as well as additional penalties for the remaining counts. The indictments also notify the defendants that the United States intends to forfeit assets which are alleged to be traceable to the proceeds of the offence.
It continued, “According to the indictments, Taylor and Runsewe obtained unauthorised access to United States businesses’ computer servers, participated in stealing from those servers the personally identifying information of United States residents and used that information to file false and fraudulent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1040, United States Individual Income Tax Returns (“Form(s) 1040”) seeking income tax refunds with the IRS.
“Adafin and Oyebanjo assisted in the collection fraud proceeds directed to prepaid debit cards in their possession or to addresses or bank accounts they controlled or to which they had access and transferred a share of the fraud proceeds to other conspirators.
“One of the places that Taylor and Runsewe had obtained unauthorized access to computer servers was the xDedic Marketplace, a website that operated for years and was used to sell access to compromised computers worldwide and personally identifiable information of U.S. residents. The xDedic administrators strategically maintained servers all over the world to facilitate the operation of the website.
“The xDedic Marketplace was taken down as part of coordinated, global enforcement operations led by the FBI (Tampa Division) the IRS-CI (Tampa Field Office) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.”