Today Friday the US department of Justice website, the announcement was made by the Assistant
Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the
Justice Department’s Criminal Division and
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee.
Lipman also ordered Abegunde to pay $57,911.62 in restitution to the victims of his offense.
Earlier in March 2019, Abegunde and another suspect, Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso were convicted after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Tennessee. Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for his role in the crime.
The statement explained further that Abegunde and Ramos-Alonso participated in
a criminal organisation in which they
“spoofed” emails and created fake profiles on
dating websites in order to fool victims into
sending money to bogus bank accounts under
the control of members of the conspiracy.
Abegunde and his criminal organization is
believed to have caused more than
$10,000,000 in damage to U.S. citizens and
businesses. According to the statement, the
proceeds were laundered and subsequently
wired out of the United States to destinations
including West Africa.
“The evidence presented at trial showed that
Abegunde engaged in black-market currency
exchanges over the life of the conspiracy.
“Purporting to hold himself out as a
legitimate businessman, Abegunde claimed
association with a business entity that was
not yet operational in late 2017, so for his
primary source of income he relied on his off-
the-book currency exchanges.
“Through this network, Abegunde played a
key role, along with Ramos-Alonso, in
laundering fraud funds from an Oct. 3, 2016,
business email compromise (BEC) of a land
title company located in Bellingham,
Washington. The proceeds of another BEC
perpetrated in July 2016 upon a real estate
company in Memphis, Tennessee, also moved
through parts of the same criminal
organization,’’ the statement read in part.
Abegunde faced numerous account closures
from banks in the United States and used a
complicated network of third-party bank
accounts to disguise his illicit activity.
He is also accused of engaging in a
conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.
He continued to live with his first wife in
Atlanta while his U.S. service member wife
was deployed to South Korea.
“While incarcerated and awaiting trial in the
Western District of Tennessee, Abegunde
continued his conspiratorial activities, trying
to convince his fake spouse, who has since
filed for divorce, to refuse to testify against
him. Abegunde also engaged in witness
tampering by sending a self-written Motion to
Dismiss bearing his former attorney’s name
and professional attestation. The evidence at
trial established that Abegunde drafted and
sent the motion, which his attorney expressly
did not authorize, to his faux spouse in an
effort to deceive her into not testifying against
him,” the statement read.
Five other individuals have, however, pleaded
guilty to being involved in the scheme.
Additionally, several foreign nationals are
awaiting extradition to the United States to
face trial and others are still at large.
The case was investigated by FBI’s Memphis
Field Office with assistance from agents in
Atlanta and San Jose, California.
Abegunde holds an MBA in Business
Administration from Texas A&M University in
College Station, Texas.