Woodberry defrauded US firms of over $17 million stashed away in Bitcoin wallet - FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has filed a case alleging that Olalekan Jacob Ponle a.k.a Woodberry defrauded US firms of millions.

 Woodberry was in June arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, alongside Hushpuppi and 10 other Africans in a special operation over cyber-fraud involving 1.9 million victims to the tune of N168 billion.

The suspects were later extradited to the United States were they are currently facing charges for money laundering, hacking, impersonation, scamming, banking fraud, and identity theft.

In an affidavit filed on Woodbery’s case, the FBI said that part of the sum from the scams, which he pulled between January and September 2019, had been stashed away in a Bitcoin (BTC) wallet.

Bitcoin is a type of virtual currency not issued by any government, bank, or firm but is generated and controlled through computer software operating on a decentralized peer-to-peer network.

While BTC transactions are recorded in the Bitcoin blockchain, the identities of the individuals or entities are not recorded on the public ledger, making the platform partially anonymous in nature.

FBI said Woodbery staged business email compromise (BEC) schemes targeting accounts through computer intrusion techniques to cause the unauthorized transfer of funds from victim companies.

Among these are schemes that caused a Chicago-based company to lose $2,300,000 while another firm was defrauded into transferring a total of $15,268,000, part of which was stashed away in BTC wallet.

“Preliminary blockchain analysis indicates that PONLE received at least 1,494.71506296 bitcoin related to these BEC schemes, valued at approximately $6,599,499.98,” the affidavit read.

“These schemes resulted in attempted and actual losses to victim companies in the tens of millions. PONLE directed money mules in the US to open bank accounts in the names of victim companies.

“Proceeds from BEC schemes, ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, were then wired by unwitting employees to the bank accounts opened by PONLE’s mules.

“PONLE then instructed the mules to convert the proceeds to Bitcoin and to send the proceeds of the BEC schemes to a bitcoin wallet that he owned and operated.”

Other victims of Woodberry's alleged scams included companies based in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, and California.

“The complaint describes several instances in which one or more unknown subjects gained unauthorized access to a U.S.-based company’s email account and sent messages to unwitting employees claiming to be from the company or a known business contact,” read a press statement by US prosecutors.

“The emails were nearly identical to prior legitimate emails sent over the company’s email account, but the fraudulent emails instructed victims to wire funds to a bank account that was set up by money mules at the direction of Ponle, the complaint states.

Prosecutors added that Ponle’s alleged cyber-fraud scheme spanned at least the first nine months of 2019.

Woodbery is expected to appear in court on July 9, for hearing on his detention. In the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.

You can download US case against Woodbery here!

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