Atlanta, Georgia - A Georgia man is charged with fraud and money laundering conspiracies and related offenses, according to an 18-count indictment unsealed Wednesday. The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak of the Northern District of Georgia, Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Division and Special Agent in Charge Nick Annan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta Field Office.
Onosemeraja Idodo-Umeh, 41, a native of Nigeria who was residing in Atlanta, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, five counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of unlawful procurement of naturalization. He was arraigned on the charges earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janet King. Idodo-Umeh was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 7.
“Onosemeraja Idodo-Umeh allegedly perpetrated multiple fraudulent schemes over many years, including by conspiring with violent gang members, and then laundered the illicit proceeds,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “He also allegedly obtained U.S. citizenship only after lying to immigration authorities. These extremely troubling charges once again demonstrate the Department of Justice’s resolve to protect the American people and our financial system from transnational fraud.”
“This Defendant has allegedly moved a substantial amount of money out of the United States to Nigeria, and he did so with the help of gang members already indicted by my Office,” said U.S. Attorney Pak. “By prosecuting not only the gang members but those who reaped the financial benefit of their crimes, we will dismantle the entire criminal network.”
The indictment alleges a conspiracy spanning roughly seven years, in which Idodo-Umeh and his co-conspirators perpetrated fraud schemes using stolen identities, compromised credit card numbers, and stolen and counterfeit checks. The alleged conspiracy involved, among other tactics, the creation of fake businesses to which Idodo-Umeh and his co-conspirators, including members of the gang the Gangster Disciples, would make credit card payments using stolen credit card numbers. The indictment also alleges the use of forged checks written for tens of thousands of dollars each. Idodo-Umeh would allegedly funnel the fraud proceeds through bank accounts belonging to a network of subordinates who he recruited and paid on commission, transfer dirty money back and forth between the United States and Nigeria, and take other steps to launder his criminal income.
The indictment also alleges that Idodo-Umeh unlawfully obtained his naturalized U.S. citizenship by falsely telling immigration authorities he had not committed any crimes when in fact he was engaged in the charged fraud.
“This gang not only threatened our communities with violence, but as a criminal enterprise, victimized innocent civilians by stealing their identities and money,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Hacker. “FBI investigators are determined to uncover every facet of their illegal activity, and this defendant’s arrest exemplifies that determination.”
“This case illustrates the complexity of financial crimes transnational criminal networks seek to exploit,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Annan. “With this indictment, HSI special agents in collaboration with our DOJ partners have taken an important action to increase the security of our nation by dismantling a significant transnational criminal organization.”
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by FBI Atlanta’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force with assistance from the Cobb County Police Department, and by HSI and IRS Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorney Conor Mulroe of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim S. Dammers, Chief of the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Northern District of Georgia, are prosecuting the case.