Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Transnational Money Launderer Sentenced To 50 Months In Prison
Dubai-Based Alade Sodiq and Others in the United States and Europe Conspired to Use Phone “Spoofing” Service and Other Means to Transfer Millions in Fraudulently Obtained Funds
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ALADE KAZEEM SODIQ, a/k/a “Eluku,” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 50 months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. SODIQ, a money launderer who operated in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was charged in 2019 along with Habeeb Audu, Abdulai Kennedy Saaka, Dominic Francis Labiran, and Yusuf Owolabi Abdul. SODIQ pled guilty on November 19, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, before U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, who also imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Using a widely available telephone ‘spoofing’ service and other deceitful means, Alade Sodiq, in concert with others, was able to steal and conceal millions of dollars in victim funds. Sodiq has rightly received a significant sentence for his crimes. This Office is committed to working with the FBI to uncover and uproot organizations like Sodiq’s that would exploit the U.S. financial system.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment, court filings, and statements made during court proceedings, including SODIQ’s plea and sentencing hearings:
From at least 2013 through in or about 2018, SODIQ and various other conspirators, located in countries including the United States, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates (collectively, the “Conspirators”), were involved in a scheme to fraudulently access millions of dollars held in individuals’ and corporations’ bank accounts, and to conduct financial transactions using those bank accounts without the knowledge or authority of the accounts’ legitimate owners (the “Bank Scheme”). As part of the Bank Scheme, the Conspirators placed thousands of calls to various United States banks, holding themselves out as legitimate accountholders of particular targeted bank accounts and using the stolen personal identifying information belonging to those accountholders. Using a particular telephone number “spoofing” service, and voice-altering technology, the Conspirators would deceive bank representatives into believing that the Conspirators were actual accountholders. In so doing, they convinced multiple U.S. banks to, among other things: Transfer funds into accounts from which the Conspirators could access the funds and conduct further unauthorized transactions; falsely list victim accountholders as “traveling abroad” to reduce the chances of the bank flagging suspicious international transactions made by the Conspirators; have “replacement” credit cards mailed to international addresses controlled by the Conspirators; and authorize foreign purchases made by the Conspirators.
SODIQ was also involved in separate schemes to defraud United States-based businesses and banks by means of business email compromise schemes (the “BEC Fraud Schemes”). For example, SODIQ and his co-conspirators defrauded a North Carolina-based healthcare company (the “Healthcare Company Victim”) into wiring over $1 million to a bank account controlled by one of SODIQ’s co-conspirators (the “SODIQ Co-conspirator Account”). They did so by tricking the Healthcare Company Victim into believing that one of its legitimate vendors had changed bank accounts to the SODIQ Co-conspirator Account, such that payment for the vendor’s services were made to the SODIQ Co-conspirator Account. These funds were thereafter quickly withdrawn from the SODIQ Co-conspirator Account and dispersed to other accounts controlled by SODIQ and his co-conspirators.
Thereafter, in connection with an FBI undercover operation, SODIQ and others each agreed, for a substantial fee, to launder funds that they believed to be fraud proceeds through bank accounts controlled by SODIQ’s co-conspirators. SODIQ and his co-conspirators agreed to conceal the nature of those purportedly fraudulent proceeds.
In addition to the prison term, SODIQ, 50, of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was also sentenced to one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay $298,581.11 in restitution and forfeiture in the amount of $23,385.00.
Other defendants charged in this case include Abdulai Kennedy Saaka, a/k/a “Kenny,” of Atlanta, Georgia, who pled guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy was sentenced to 32 months in prison; Habeeb Audu, a/k/a “Dickson,” a citizen of the United Kingdom and Yusuf Owolabi Abdul, a/k/a “Saheed Sador,” a citizen of Canada, whose cases remain pending; and Dominic Francis Labiran, a citizen of the United Kingdom, who remains at large.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Kiersten A. Fletcher, Jonathan E. Rebold, and Andrew A. Rohrbach are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges against Habeeb Audu, Yusuf Owolabi Abdul, and Dominic Francis Labiran are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.