By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston of the Eastern District of Texas has announced that a Nigerian, Sobanke Idris Sunday Adereti, has been sentenced to federal prison for federal fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas.
Adereti, 24, who pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2021, to passport fraud and attempted bank fraud, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle.
According to court documents, in March 2021, Adereti presented a false passport and a falsely procured certified check when trying to open a bank account in Flower Mound, Texas.
The check was purchased by a fraud victim who was induced into sending money to Adereti, falsely known as “Robinson Elijah.” He was likely acting as a money mule to cash the victim’s checks.
When Adereti was arrested, he had additional passports and bank statements in other names in his possession and investigators determined that Adereti was also connected to scams related to business email compromise fraud and other government program fraud.
Evidence also showed that Adereti was the son of a Nigerian traditional ruler and entered the United States on a visitor’s visa in 2018, which has since expired.
Reacting to the development, U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston, said scams to steal money are around every corner but thanks to the keen eye of bank officials, Adereti was apprehended.
According to the U.S Attorney, many of the crimes often target the vulnerable elder population and it is up to the masses to share awareness and look out for the greatest generation.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Adereti with federal violations on April 7, 2021.
A statement by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, Public Affairs Section said the case is part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative and it urged the public to report cases of fraud against people aged 60 or older who have been a victim of financial fraud, to the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311) for assistance.
Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis.
It encouraged citizens to report fraudulent acts saying reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses.
Meanwhile, on May 17, 2021, the Attorney General had established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.
The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assist agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augment and incorporate existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.
It also encouraged anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 to report by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.