$7 Million Scam: PA Man Admits Bank Fraud Conspiracy That Operated in South Jersey
Federal authorities say a man from Pennsylvania has admitted his role in a bank fraud conspiracy that targeted a dozen different financial institutions in South Jersey and beyond.
57-year-old Muritala Adeowo of Lansdowne, PA, pleaded guilty in Camden federal court on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger.
Adeowo was part of a multi-defendant, Nigerian-based, multi-layered criminal organization that engaged in a bank fraud conspiracy in several states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Rhode Island, between June 2016 and March 2020. Members of the group acquired numerous business checks that were stolen from the United States mail, altered the payee on the checks to a fraudulent name and deposited the checks into bank accounts that had been opened with forged foreign passport documents and fraudulent U.S. visas that matched the names on the stolen checks.
Once the banks credited all or a portion of the funds to the accounts, but before the checks had cleared, the defendants withdrew that money from ATMs or they purchased money orders using debit cards associated with the fraudulent accounts.
Sellinger's office says members of the organization used over 400 fraudulent accounts and the total loss to the banks that were involved was around $7 million.
Adeowo was arrested at his home on August 25, 2020. There, federal agents seized several stolen business checks that were found in his bedroom.
Adeowo admitted that he obtained fraudulent foreign passports for some of the conspirators that were used to open fraudulent accounts at the victim banks. Adeowo also admitted that he obtained stolen business checks from other conspirators that were then altered to change the payee on the check to match the fraudulent identity documents of the conspirator who would be depositing the check.
Adeowo now faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when he is sentenced on March 16th.
Six other conspirators have previously pleaded guilty and one conspirator was convicted in a trial this past June. Charges against four others remain pending.