Olalekan Jacob Ponle, 29, also known as Woodbery, has been charged in the U.S. who allegedly engineered an international cyber fraud scheme involving many U.S.-based firms. Chicago district court with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The schemes resulted in tens of millions of dollars in alleged or real damages to victim businesses, including a Chicago-based corporation that was defrauded in sending $15.2 million worth in wire transfers, the lawsuit claims.
Ponle made an initial appearance on court in Chicago this morning. Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert of the U.S. Magistrate scheduled a detention hearing for July 9, 2020 at 4p.m.
The complaint describes several instances where one or more unknown subjects gained unauthorized access to the email account of a U.S.-based company and sent messages to unwitting employees claiming to be from the company or a known contact with business.
The emails were almost identical to previous legitimate emails sent via the company’s email address, but the fraudulent emails directed victims to move funds to a bank account set up by money mules in Ponle ‘s direction, the complaint states.
Ponle then ordered the mules to convert the proceeds of the fraud into Bitcoin and send it to a virtual wallet owned and run by Ponle, the complaint claims.
In addition to the Chicago-based firms, the lawsuit claims that other plaintiffs included businesses located in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New York and California.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable in federal prisons for up to 20 years. If convicted, a reasonable sentence must be imposed by the Court under the federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Guidelines to Sentencing.