Maryland – U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Olufemi Wilfred Williams, of Owings Mills, Maryland, to four years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit money laundering arising from a scheme to defraud vulnerable victims of millions of dollars. Judge Grimm also ordered Williams to forfeit and pay restitution of more than $375,000. Williams previously pleaded guilty to the charge on February 21, 2017.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to court documents, from January 2011 to May 18, 2015, Williams searched online dating websites to initiate romantic relationships with vulnerable male and female individuals. He phoned, emailed, texted, and used internet chat messenger services to form romantic relationships with the victims, who lived in Maryland and around the country. Williams then used false stories and promises to convince the victims to provide money to the conspirators, including fake hospital bills, plane trips to visit the victims, problems with overseas businesses, and foreign taxes.
Williams and other conspirators opened bank accounts, called “drop accounts,” in order to receive millions of dollars from the victims. The victims provided money to Williams and others as a result of the false stories and promises, either depositing money directly into drop accounts controlled by the defendant, or by wire transfers sent to the conspirators. Williams and his co-conspirators dispersed money received from the victims by transferring funds to other accounts controlled by the conspirators, by obtaining cashier’s checks, and by writing checks to individuals or entities, in order to conceal the nature, source, and control of those assets.
The following co-defendants were previously convicted at trial or pleaded guilty:
Gbenga Benson Ogundele, a/k/a “Benson Ogundele,” age 58, of Laurel, Maryland;
Victor Oyewumi Oloyede, age 42, of Laurel;
Olusegun Charles Ogunseye, a/k/a “Charles O. Ogunseye,” age 58, of Laurel;
Babtunde Emmanuel Popoola, a/k/a “Emmanuel Popoola” and his sister, “Tunde Popoola, age 34, of Bowie, Maryland;
Mojisola Tinuola Popoola, a/k/a “Mojisola Oluwakemi Tin Popoola” and “Moji T. Popoola,” age 42, of Laurel;
Adeyinka Olubunmi Awolaja, Jr., a/k/a “Yinka O. Awolaja, Jr.,” age 34, formerly of New Carrolltown, Maryland; and Olusola Olla, age 50, of Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.
Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.