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Wire Fraud: US postpones sentencing of ‘Invictus’ Obinwanne Okeke

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The United States court of Eastern District of Virginia has rescheduled till next year the sentencing of ‘Invictus’ Obinwanne Okeke, a Nigerian businessman who pleaded guilty to wire and internet fraud in June.

Ruling earlier set for October 22, 2020, will now hold on February 16, 2021, by 11 a.m in Norfork, Arkansas.

Known also by his company name ‘Invictus’, Mr Okeke, a Forbes-profiled entrepreneur, was nabbed in 2019 by the FBI for wire fraud.

The fraud, which successfully stole millions of dollars from US companies, happened over a period of at least four years.

One of such targets, Unatrac Holding Limited, a subsidiary of American heavy equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar, lost up to $11 million in spurious wire transfers, court documents showed.

In June 2018, representatives of Unatrac in the UK had reported the fraud to the FBI, alleging that a business email compromise (BEC) scheme had seen to fraudulent transfers from the company’s bank accounts.

“The representatives explained that on or about April 1, 2018, Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) received a phishing’ email containing a web link, purportedly to the login page of the CFO’s online email account hosted by Microsoft Office365. When the CFO opened the link, it instead led him to a phishing website crafted to imitate the legitimate Office365 login page.

“Believing the page to be real, he entered his login credentials, which were captured by an unknown intruder who controlled the spoofed web page,” FBI documents read.

Logs indicated that between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the intruder accessed the CFO’s account at least 464 times, mostly from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in Nigeria. The IP addresses were traced to Mr Okeke and his co-conspirators.

The FBI obtained an arrest warrant and arrested Mr Okeke during his visit to the United States in 2019. He remains in custody.

After initial legal skirmishes about jurisdiction, he pleaded guilty June 2020 before a federal high court in Arkansas. He could spend up to 20 years in jail and could refund up to $250,000 of the stolen money.

At the time of writing this report, it was not immediately clear why the sentencing was postponed.

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