The U.S. Secret Service said in a statement Wednesday that an investigation it conducted with the FBI has led to federal charges related to internet scams against seven leaders of the Cape Town Zone of the Neo Black Movement of Africa, also known as "Black Axe."
An eighth man, who allegedly conspired with the leader of the group, was also charged with federal crimes linked to internet scams stemming from South Africa, the Secret Service said.
The Secret Service statement said the following people were charged wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes in connection with perpetrating romance scams and other illegal schemes perpetrated on victims in the U.S. and other countries between 2011 and 2021 using the internet:
• Perry Osagiede, 52, aka "Lord Sutan Abubakar de 1st," aka "Rob Nicolella," aka "Alan Salomon."
• Enorense Izevbigie, 45, aka "Richy Izevbigie," aka "Lord Samuel S Nujoma."
• Franklyn Edosa Osagiede, 37, aka "Lord Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela," aka "Edosa Franklyn Osagiede," aka "Dave Hewitt," aka "Bruce Dupont."
• Osariemen Eric Clement, 35, aka "Lord Adekunle Ajasi," aka "Aiden Wilson."
• Egbe Tony Iyamu, 35, aka "Lord Aminu Kano," aka "Richard Amall."
• Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, 37, aka "Lord Jesse Makoko," aka "Philip Coughlan."
• Musa Mudashiru, 33, aka "Lord Oba Akenzua."
All originally from Nigeria, the suspects are charged by superseding indictment with wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy spanning from 2011 to 2021. Perry Osagiede, Franklyn Osagiede, Clement, Izevbigie, and Iyamu are also charged with wire fraud. Perry Osagiede, Franklyn Osagiede, Iyamu and Otughwor are charged with aggravated identity theft.
Toritseju Gabriel Otubu, 41, also known as "Andy Richards" and "Ann Petersen" and also originally from Nigeria, was charged in a separate indictment with wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering conspiracy, spanning from 2016 to 2021."
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig said in the statement that "Americans are too often victimized by criminal organizations located abroad that use the internet to deceive those victims, defraud them of money, and, many times, persuade their victims to wittingly or unwittingly assist in perpetuating the fraudulent schemes."
"The public should be on guard against schemes like these," she added. "And, more importantly, anyone thinking of engaging in this kind of criminal conduct should understand that the U.S. Attorney's Office and our partners will find them and bring them to justice, no matter where they are."
The statement said: "The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greatest. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory term of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed on a defendant."
Source: Voice of America