36-year-old Nigerian-American man, Arinze Michael Ozor, has pleaded guilty on January 3, 2020, to U.S. federal charges of false use of a passport to open “drop accounts” for a money-laundering conspiracy.
The dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria living in Bowie, Maryland, used a Ghanaian passport in the name of Kelvin Green to open accounts at five banks between December 2017 and January 2018 as part of a money-laundering conspiracy to receive the proceeds from fraud schemes, including business e-mail compromise schemes and romance fraud schemes, the U.S. Department of Justice in the District of Maryland announced in a statement.
Ozor further admitted that from March 23, 2018, through May 1, 2018, he used a purported Beninese passport in the name of Jacob Hessou to open accounts at three additional banks.
The Ghanaian passport contained purported identifiers for Green but contained Ozor’s photograph. When one of the banks froze the account due to suspicion of fraudulent activity, Ozor met with a banker to discuss regaining access to the account and presented the same Ghanaian passport in support of his request.
The Beninese passport, like that of the Ghanaian passport, also contained purported identifiers for Hessou, but contained Ozor’s photograph, the DOJ stated.
The funds deposited to the accounts were largely disseminated to other entities as part of the conspiracy by Ozor and others. More than $976,000 was involved in the money laundering conspiracy from the eight accounts opened by Ozor using the fraudulent passports, the statement added.
The investigation by the FBI, DOJ and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) found that Ozor does not have a validly issued passport from Ghana or Benin. Also, the Kelvin Green Ghanaian passport number and the Jacob Hessou Beninese passport number were actually issued to other individuals by the respective governments and not to Green or Hessou.
Arinze Michael Ozor faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.