Tochukwu Abel Edeh, a Nigerian auto salesman who used to live in the United States, has been arrested and charged with fraud.
Edeh lived in Jacksonville, Florida and was arrested on September 2, for “allegedly operating an unlicensed money transmitting business to launder the proceeds of online investment fraud schemes,” a statement by the United States Department of Justice said.
The suspect was in charge of used car dealership and money transfer services in Texas, Florida, and Nigeria, according to the indictment. This includes a trading corporation as well as a cryptocurrency and e-commerce enterprise located in Nigeria, through which Edeh traded Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for profit.
According to the indictment, Edeh conspired with others in or around 2015 to launder and transfer earnings from Ponzi-style investment fraud schemes located in Nigeria.
Specifically, the schemes purported to offer trading and Bitcoin investing services when, in fact, investor funds were allegedly stolen and later victims’ investments were used to pay purported returns to earlier investors.
Edeh reportedly used a network of co-conspirators in the United States to launder the fraud proceeds, as well as his personal and commercial accounts in the United States and Nigeria. Edeh and his accused co-conspirators did not have money transmitting licenses in their home states, nor were they registered as money transmitters as needed by federal law.
The charge of money laundering conspiracy carries a 20-year prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater.
The accusation of conspiracy to run an unauthorized money transmission company carries a five-year jail term, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine, or double the gain or loss, whichever is higher.