• Alleged fraudster extradited to face charges in $7M international advance-fee scam

    HOUSTON – A 57-year-old Nigerian national has been extradited from France to face charges in the United States for his alleged leadership role in a conspiracy perpetrated against victims in more than 20 countries, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. Uche Victor Diuno is set to appear today at 2 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo in Houston. He arrived in the United States Friday, June 9. The charges allege Diuno helped to orchestrate a scam involving false promises of investment funding by individuals who impersonated U.S. bank officials in person and over the internet to victims around the world. Those victims were allegedly told they had to make certain payments before they could supposedly receive their funding. Proceeds of the scheme were laundered through U.S. bank accounts and diverted back to the scheme’s perpetrators in Nigeria, according to the charges. Diuno allegedly lead a criminal network of “catchers,” who sent phishing emails to potential victims falsely offering investment funding on behalf of BB&T Corporation and other U.S. banks. Victims in various countries were deceived into believing they would receive millions of dollars of investment funding as part of joint ventures with U.S. banks, usually BB&T or Chase, according to the indictment. The perpetrators allegedly utilized false domain names to make it appear that senders of emails were actually affiliated with BB&T or Chase. The charges further allege that to convince victims the opportunities were authentic, the perpetrators recruited U.S. citizens to pose as bank “representatives” at in-person meetings with victims around the world. Further, if occurring abroad, they utilized sham visits to the local U.S. embassy or consulate and fabricated documents to make the victims believe the U.S. government was sponsoring the investment agreements, according to the indictment. The victims were then allegedly induced to pay tens of thousands, and often hundreds of thousands, of dollars to U.S.-based bank accounts on the belief that such payments were necessary to effectuate their investment agreements. Diuno was originally charged in a second superseding indictment filed Oct. 3, 2018, with one count of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of concealment money laundering. As alleged in that indictment, Diuno was a “chairman” or leader in the scheme who operated his own network of catchers and money movers alongside other fraudsters, which he used in furtherance of the same BB&T investment scam. Five other individuals have been charged as part of the same indictment. The scheme allegedly resulted in losses of more than $7 million. The FBI and Department of State – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Christian Latham of the Southern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Philip Trout of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.



  • Disruption of Fraud

    U.S. Law Enforcement Disrupts Networks Used to Transfer Fraud Proceeds, Taking Over 4,000 Actions in Fifth Campaign

    WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other federal law enforcement agencies announced today the completion of a three-month campaign that disrupted networks used by foreign fraudsters to obtain fraud proceeds. Multiple law enforcement actions addressed conduct by individuals sometimes referred to as “money mules,” who have been providing critical services to fraudsters by receiving money from fraud victims and forwarding the fraud proceeds to the perpetrators (many of whom are based overseas). Some individuals knew they were facilitating fraud. Others first interacted with fraudsters as victims and may have been unaware that their activity furthered criminal activity.

    Over approximately the last three months, law enforcement took over 4,000 actions against individuals responsible for facilitating a range of fraud schemes. These schemes included those that targeted consumers, such as lottery fraud and romance scams, as well as those that targeted businesses or pandemic funds.

    The thousands of actions taken by law enforcement—which ranged from criminal prosecutions, to civil actions, to warning letters—were designed to punish those who knowingly assisted fraudsters and to advise those who may have been unknowingly helping fraudsters that their conduct furthered crime. These actions are intended to deter overseas fraudsters from relying on U.S.-based individuals to facilitate schemes, and thereby reduce the harm caused by foreign fraud operations.

    This year’s effort marked the fifth U.S. law enforcement campaign disrupting these money transmitting networks. Since the first campaign, during which approximately 400 actions were taken by law enforcement, agencies have collectively taken over 12,000 actions. Investigations have shown that disrupting money transmitting networks has impeded fraudsters’ abilities to receive funds, thereby reducing fraud victimization. These campaigns are part of a global effort to tackle money transmitting networks linked to illegal activity.

    “Law enforcement is committed to reducing fraud using every tool at our disposal. Our efforts to disrupt networks used to transfer fraud proceeds, to educate the public about elder fraud, and to prosecute those involved in these schemes have stymied fraudsters,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “This initiative demonstrates what can be achieved through focused efforts and vigorous enforcement.”

    “The money mule campaign was an effort to educate the public, disrupt criminal enterprises, and provide feedback to financial institutions who go to great lengths to implement anti-money laundering programs,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI values the partnership of DOJ Consumer Protection Branch, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and other federal agencies who work together to disrupt criminal enterprises conducting fraud and money laundering schemes.”

    “Anyone can be approached to be a money mule, but criminals often target students, those looking for work, and those on dating websites,” said Eric Shen, Inspector in Charge of the Criminal Investigations Group. “When those individuals use the U.S. Mail to send or receive funds from fraudsters, Postal Inspectors are quick to step in and put a stop to money mule activities.”

    This year’s effort was coordinated by the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which were joined by Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General. Participating agencies collectively served over 4,000 letters warning individuals that their activities are facilitating fraud. These letters outlined the potential consequences for continuing to transmit illegally acquired funds. Participating agencies also filed twelve civil or administrative actions. Additionally, more than 25 individuals were criminally charged for knowingly receiving and forwarding victim funds or otherwise laundering fraud proceeds.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District Massachusetts charged a defendant for using his accounting and “virtual CFO” business as a front to launder the proceeds of internet fraud schemes. As part of the alleged conspiracy, the defendant created dozens of shell companies and used those shell companies to open business bank accounts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, through which the defendant laundered the criminal proceeds for his clients in exchange for fees. In total, since 2019, the defendant is alleged to have opened approximately 80 bank accounts (purportedly on behalf of 65 different companies), laundering approximately $35 million.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina charged an individual for facilitating an international, multi-million-dollar tech support fraud. The indictment alleged that the defendant agreed to obtain payment-processing services in his name to process victim payments and laundered the proceeds domestically and internationally to bank accounts located in India, receiving three percent of the revenue in return.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Central District of California and the District of Nebraska charged individuals who, despite warnings from law enforcement, continued facilitating fraud. In the Central District of California, an individual was charged for her role in receiving funds from fraud victims, including victims of business email compromises. According to the charges, the defendant opened 11 bank accounts at seven separate financial institutions in furtherance of the scheme. In the District of Nebraska, two individuals were charged for facilitating a lottery fraud scheme, including by receiving cashier’s checks in the mail.

    Criminal charges are merely allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    As in past years, participating agencies are working to raise awareness about how fraudsters recruit and use individuals to assist their fraud operations. Federal agencies conducted outreach to the public and industry, and also expanded partnerships with local, state, and foreign law enforcement agencies. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission released a public awareness message about how fraudsters use and recruit people to facilitate romance fraud and “wrong number” text message scams, where fraudsters strike up conversations touting their wealth and success in trading crypto assets, over-the-counter foreign currency, or gold contracts to try and convince consumers to “invest” in crypto assets.

    The agencies involved in this effort urge consumers to be on the lookout for signs someone is trying to recruit them to receive and transmit fraud proceeds. Do not agree to receive money or checks mailed to you or sent to your bank account for someone you have met over the phone or online. Do not open a bank or cryptocurrency account at someone else’s direction. Fraudsters will lie to persuade you to help them. They may falsely tell you that they are helping you get a lottery prize, initiate a purported romantic relationship and then tell you that they need money, or pretend to offer you a job, an opportunity to invest in a business venture, or the chance to help in a charitable effort.

    For more information on this initiative, please visit….

    Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).

    Information about the Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force is available at

    For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at



  • Nigerian National Sentenced to Prison for Bank Fraud Scheme

    Scheme Involved Selling Stolen Personal Identifiable Information

    CLEVELAND – A Nigerian national was sentenced today to more than three years – or 37 months – in prison by U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin after he was convicted by a jury of formulating a conspiracy to obtain stolen financial information, making fraudulent and unauthorized purchases of retail goods and gift cards, and stealing funds from victim bank accounts in Northern Ohio and elsewhere.

    Blessing Adeleke, 31, of Nigeria, was convicted in October 2022 of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and 16 counts of bank fraud. According to court documents, between January 2014 through October 2016, Adeleke served as an administrator for an online marketplace,, where compromised data, such as credit numbers and personally identifiable information (PII), were sold.

    As part of the conspiracy, Adeleke and others obtained stolen credit card information and purchased items, such as retail goods and gift cards for themselves. Adeleke shared this stolen credit card information with others, including co-defendant Kylie Ann Harlow. Court documents state that Adeleke and Harlow shipped retail goods purchased with the stolen financial information to Harlow and others and, in some instances, returned the goods and gift cards to retail stores to obtain cash.

    Adeleke and Harlow eventually forwarded the fraudulently obtained goods, gift cards, and money to other members of the conspiracy for their personal enrichment.

    Adeleke gained access to at least one bank account belonging to a victim in Pepper Pike, Ohio, from which he sent 16 fraudulent checks. 

    Kylie Ann Harlow previously pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme and was sentenced in June 2021. This case was investigated by the Cleveland FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian S. Deckert and Daniel J. Riedl.

    The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs provided significant support and assistance in securing the defendant’s arrest and extradition from Ghana.

    The U.S. Department of Justice thanks its Ghanian partners, specifically the Ministry of Interior and the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, for supporting this extradition.

    The FBI Legal Attaché in Accra and the U.S. Marshals Service also provided significant support and assistance to Adeleke’s extradition.


  • Man Indicted for Stealing Chief Federal Judge’s Identity and Forging Court Documents

    For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U. S. Attorney Mark Conover (619) 546-6763  Honolulu, Hawaii – Edmond Abordo of Honolulu was arrested by the FBI today in connection with a federal grand jury indictment charging that he forged the signature of a federal judge in order to trick a woman into paying him thousands of dollars for bogus legal services. According to the indictment, Abordo used the forged signature and a federal court seal to create a phony court order, which he then used to prove to the victim that he’d pulled her Ewa Beach, Hawaii, home out of foreclosure. Abordo allegedly claimed to be a legal expert, which he was not. The case was initiated when the Clerk's Office of the District Court, District of Hawaii learned of the forged court order containing the signature and seal of U.S. Chief District Judge Derrick K. Watson. The FBI began investigating. The indictment alleges that Abordo first met the elderly victim in late 2017 and described himself to her as a “non-licensed attorney” who could help her prevent foreclosure. Abordo, who is not a lawyer and has no legal training, claimed that he had expertise on several legal subjects, including mortgages and adverse possession. He convinced the victim to file a federal lawsuit challenging foreclosure of her home. Nearly each time that Abordo met with the victim, he demanded a cash payment of $1,000 to $3,000 dollars. Abordo ultimately convinced the victim that the federal judge assigned to the lawsuit had awarded her possession of her home, the indictment said Abordo stated that he would not give her the court order until she paid him additional money. In reality, the victim’s home had been lost to foreclosure and the federal lawsuit had been dismissed months earlier. The victim, believing Abordo had a real court order, paid him thousands of dollars in exchange for the forged court order. The forged court order was a two-page document dated June 26, 2019 and titled “Order Granting Plaintiff’s Motion For Adverse Possession Pursuant HRS § 657-31.5 Adverse Possession and 43 U.S. Code § 1068 Lands Held in Adverse Possession.” The document contained the caption of the federal lawsuit as well as the purported signature of U.S. District Judge Watson, and the seal of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. Abordo assured the victim that the forged court order was a genuine court document and that the judge’s signature on the forged order was genuine, and that the forged court order gave legal possession of the Ewa Beach property to the victim. In reality, and as Abordo then well knew, the forged court order was not genuine, was never issued or signed by the judge, and did not confer any property rights to the victim. “We will always act to protect the integrity of the court and seek justice for victims of fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman of the Southern District of California. Grossman applauded the work of the prosecution team and the FBI in this matter. “Trust in our court system is paramount to our society,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. “When individuals forge court documents and victimize our kupuna, the FBI will aggressively pursue those individuals to maintain the public’s confidence in the court system and protect the vulnerable.” Abordo was arraigned on the indictment by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendal Newman and entered a plea of not guilty. Judge Newman detained Abordo temporarily and ordered him to appear before U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill on January 19, 2023, at 9 a.m. for a motion hearing. *The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. DEFENDANT Edmund Abordo 67 Honolulu, HI SUMMARY OF CHARGES 18 U.S.C. § 1343, Wire Fraud Maximum Penalty: Twenty years in prison, $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution 18 U.S.C. § 505, Forgery Maximum Penalty: Five years in prison, $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1), Aggravated Identity Theft Maximum Penalty: Two years consecutive to underlying count   AGENCIES Federal Bureau of Investigation *The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.


  • Utah Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Tax Fraud involving Daufuskie Island Resort

    Charleston, South Carolina --- Acting United States Attorney Rhett DeHart announced today that James Thomas Bramlette, 42, of Salt Lake City, Utah, pled guilty to Wire Fraud and Tax Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and 26 U.S. § 7202, before United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel.  Bramlette will be sentenced at a later date.

    The following evidence was presented at the guilty plea:  this investigation involved Melrose Resort on Daufuskie Island, S.C.  Bramlette was a real estate developer in Salt Lake City, Utah.  In 2011, he borrowed $17.5 million from a Dutch investor to purchase the resort out of bankruptcy.  This loan was a short-term bridge loan with high-interest rates.  Bramlette did not put any of his own money into the purchase.  Bramlette thought he could resale the resort soon after the sale, but his attempts to refinance or sell the resort failed repeatedly throughout the case. 

    In addition to the Dutch loan, Bramlette and a co-defendant raised more than $10 million from individual investors by issuing promissory notes with high-interest rates.  The promissory notes were not secured by the resort.  Most of the investors resided in the West.

    The investment in the resort was difficult from the start.  Bramlette could not make the mortgage payments to the Dutch lender, which led to a $27 million foreclosure judgment in 2014.  Bramlette lost further control of the resort in October 2014 when he pledged ownership of the property to secure a separate $700,000 loan, which he later defaulted on.

    Bramlette and his co-defendant struggled every month to raise money from new investors to pay the Dutch lender not to foreclose, to pay previous investors, and to pay employees, utilities, and taxes at the resort.  From 2013 through 2017, Bramlette repeatedly told investors that the resort was on the cusp of being refinanced by a private equity firm.  While several firms considered investing in the resort, none of these deals came to fruition.

    After he lost control of Melrose Resort in late 2014, Bramlette was allowed to remain as manager of the resort due to his operational knowledge of the property.  Part of his duties as manager included paying the property taxes for Melrose Resort. 

    Concerning the wire fraud charge, in September 2016, Melrose Resort owed $502,759 in past due to property taxes to the Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office.  As a result of this tax delinquency, the Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office notified Bramlette that Melrose Resort would be auctioned at a tax sale if the property taxes were not paid. 

    On September 20, 2016, an employee of Bramlette emailed this notice and stated that “we have a week from this Friday, September 30th, 2016 to pay these taxes, which total $502,759.40 or the properties go up for sale on Monday, October 3, 2016.”

    It was part of the scheme to defraud that, in order to prevent the resort from being sold at this tax sale, Bramlette created a fake wire receipt that falsely represented that Melrose Resort had wired $502,759 to the Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office to pay the property taxes.  In reality, Melrose Resort had only $121.07 in its bank account at this time, and these funds were not wired as Bramlette represented.

    It was further part of the scheme that Bramlette emailed the fraudulent wire receipt to one of his employees, and he caused this employee to send the fraudulent wire receipt to the Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office, in order to have Melrose Resort removed from the tax sale.  After receiving the fraudulent wire receipt, the Beaufort County Treasurer’s Office removed Melrose Resort from the tax sale. 

    As to the tax fraud charge, Bramlette was required to collect and pay over federal payroll taxes from the wages of all employees at Melrose Resort.  Bramlette collected payroll taxes from the Melrose employees, but he failed to turn over these taxes to the IRS.  In total, Bramlette collected but failed to turn over to the IRS approximately $1 million in payroll taxes.

    In addition to the fraud above, Bramlette used at least $1.8 million from investors for personal use, which was not disclosed to investors.  Bramlette lived a lavish lifestyle, and he spent money on himself even when he failed to pay employees, vendors, and subcontractors.  The accountant at his company urged Bramlette to draw a salary and not use investor money for personal use.  Bramlette ignored this advice and failed to report this income to the IRS or even file income tax returns.

    This case was prosecuted by Acting United States Attorney Rhett DeHart.  It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Securities and Exchange Commission in Los Angeles.

    Source: FBI

    Also read-Legalizing Crime and Criminality

                     -Landlords and Tenants Associations, Crime and Criminality

                     -Law Enforcement: The Reactionary Approach