SCARS™ Crime Story: The Downfall Of Habeeb Audu

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SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Crime Story: The Downfall Of Habeeb Audu

U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition Of British Citizen For Operating An International Money LaunderingMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions. And FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. Network

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud.”), announced that HABEEB AUDU, a/k/a “Dickson,” a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, was extradited today from the United Kingdom.

Audu Was Charged With Participation In A Series Of Fraud Schemes From At Least In Or About 2013 Until At Least April 2019, Involving The Theft And Laundering Of More Than US$2 Million.

AUDU was arrested in London, England, on June 26, 2019, on a provisional arrest warrant, and is the fourth defendant charged in this case.  AUDU is expected to be presented on Monday, August 31, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.  AUDU’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Habeeb Audu played a key role in an international fraud conspiracy that victimized businesses and individuals by using stolen identities and social engineeringSocial Engineering Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It is used as a type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional "con" in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme. It has also been defined as "any act that influences a person to take any action that may or may not be in their best interests." to access victims’ bank accounts, and by engaging in business email compromise schemes.  Thanks to the FBI and our international partners, including the Italian National Police, Audu is now in U.S. custody and facing charges in this District.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Today’s indictment outlines the alleged fraudulent conduct of Habeeb Audu and other conspirators who, over the course of nearly six years, robbed the bank accounts of both individuals and businesses here in the United States, sometimes from locations nearly halfway across the world. Using traditional spoofingSpoofing Spoofing occurs when a caller maliciously transmits false caller ID information to increase the likelihood that you'll answer. Scammers often spoof local numbers, private companies, government agencies and other institutions. It can also apply to pretending to be an email address, or through other media. techniques and business email compromise schemes, these crimes collectively brought in more than $2 million in proceeds. While today’s charges bring about a victory in this case, let it be a warning to the public to remain extra vigilant with respect to their personal and professional finances. The market is unfortunately rife with this type of crime.”

According To The Allegations In The Unsealed Indictment:*

From at least 2013 through in or about 2018, AUDU and various other conspirators (collectively, the “Conspirators”), located in countries including the United States, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, were involved in a scheme to fraudulently access individuals’ and corporations’ bank accounts and to conduct financial transactions using those bank accounts without the knowledge or authority of the accounts’ legitimate owners (the “Bank Scheme”).

As part of the Bank Scheme, the Conspirators placed thousands of calls to various United States banks, holding themselves out as legitimate accountholders of particular targeted bank accounts and using the stolen personal identifying information belonging to those accountholders.

Using a particular telephone number “spoofing” service, and voice-altering technology, the Conspirators would deceive bank representatives into believing that the Conspirators were actual accountholders.  In so doing, they convinced multiple U.S. banks to, among other things:  move money from a victim’s savings account to the victim’s checking account (so that the Conspirators could more easily access the funds and conduct unauthorized transactions); falsely note on the account that the accountholder was traveling abroad (making the bank less likely to void suspicious international transactions made by the Conspirators); have “replacement” credit cards mailed to international addresses controlled by the Conspirators (whereupon the Conspirators could use them to make unauthorized purchases); and authorize foreign purchases made by the Conspirators.

AUDU, from at least December 2018 through April 2019, was also involved in separate schemes to defraud United States-based businesses and banks by means of business email compromise schemes (the “BEC Fraud Schemes”).  For example, AUDU defrauded an Ohio-based restaurant chain (the “Restaurant Victim”) into wiring nearly $2 million to a bank account controlled by AUDU’s co-conspirators (the “AUDU Account”).  He did so by tricking the Restaurant Victim into believing that one of its legitimate vendors had changed bank accounts to the AUDU Account, such that payments for the vendor’s services were made to the AUDU Account.  These funds were thereafter quickly withdrawn from the AUDU Account and dispersed to other accounts controlled by AUDU and his co-conspirators.

Thereafter, in connection with an FBI undercover operation, AUDU and others each agreed, for a substantial fee, to launder moneys that they believed to be fraud proceeds, through bank accounts controlled by AUDU and his co-conspirators.  In doing so, AUDU and his co-conspirators agreed to conceal the nature of those purportedly fraudulent proceeds.

About Habeeb Audu, also known as: “Dickson”

AUDU, 5­­­3, of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, is charged with:

  • one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison
  • four counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, each of which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison
  • one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
  • and one count of aggravated identity theftIdentity Theft Identity theft is when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In both the U.K. and the United States it is the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's loss. The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources., which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutively to any other sentence.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Other Defendants

Other defendants charged in this case include:

  • Abdulai Kennedy Saaka, a/k/a “Kenny,” of Atlanta, Georgia, who pled guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy in January 2020
  • Alade Kazeem Sodiq, a/k/a “Eluku,” a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, whose case remains pending
  • Dominic Francis Labiran, a citizen of the United Kingdom, who remains at large.

Great Job

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.  She also thanked United States Customs and Border Protection, Italian judicial law enforcement authorities, including the Prosecutor of the Republic of Naples and the Servizio Centrale Operativo of the Italian National Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, London, United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service for their assistance in this case.  The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s CriminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. Division provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from the United Kingdom.

Afterword

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kiersten A. Fletcher, Jonathan E. Rebold, and Andrew A. Rohrbach are in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

*  As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Actual Indictment Document

indictment document 2017 audu

 

TAGS: SCARS, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Scam Victims, HABEEB AUDU, United States Attorney, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud, Scammers Arrested, Scammers Indicted

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Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
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