2 Nigerians charged in US over cryptocurrency fraud

2 Nigerians charged in US over cryptocurrency fraud

- Kelvin Usifoh and Onwuemerie Gift have been charged in the US over cryptocurrency fraud

- The duo were said to have defrauded three victims, one residing in Oregon and two in California, of 10.88 bitcoins worth $59,000 (N21,269,500)

- The Nigerians are facing a 13-count charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering

Billy Williams, the attorney for the US District of Oregon, said two Nigerian nationals, Kelvin Usifoh and Onwuemerie Gift of unidentified age, are facing criminal charges for allegedly defrauding people in an online scheme, bitcoin.

In a statement published on the website of the US Attorney’s office for the district of Oregon, the duo are facing a 13-count charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, Guardian reports.

The attorney’s office also said between December 2017 and June 2018, the duo had defrauded three victims, one residing in Oregon and two in California, of 10.88 bitcoins worth $59,000 (N21,269,500).

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According to the Attorney’s office, the pair launched three fraudulent webpages: wealthcurrency.com, boomcurrency.com, and merrycurrency.com to scam the victims. They promised investors 20-50 per cent returns on investments of bitcoin with zero risk and instant withdrawals.

The statement read: "In an indictment filed on April 18, 2019, Gift and Usifoh were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and 11 counts of wire fraud.

“They actively encouraged victims to transfer bitcoin to private virtual currency wallets and made numerous false claims including that their bitcoins would be invested using unique trading methods and they would maintain a constant high-interest rate..

"After receiving bitcoin transfers from their victims, Gift and Usifoh would transfer the bitcoin to other accounts and eventually exchange it for Nigerian Naira.

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"The indictment alleges that in just over six months, the defendants stole 10.88 bitcoins worth approximately $59,000 from the three victims. In total, the government alleges Gift and Usifoh received more than 50 bitcoins as part of the scheme."

The U.S Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy had issued an Investor Alert warning investors about investment scams involving websites and trading businesses related to digital asset.

The statement added that after the pair had received the Bitcoin from their victims, they, however, transferred the bitcoins to other accounts for an exchange to Nigerian Naira.

Legit.ng previously reported that two Nigerians, Eneye Dania and Osariemen Isibor, were sentenced to a combined 31 months in prison over a “spearfishing” email scheme seeking to steal personal information from Vermont state employees and file fraudulent tax returns. Dania, 31, was sentenced to 17 months, while Isibor, 32, will serve 14 months.

Both men will be returned to Nigeria after completing prison time, Vermontdigger.org reported. The two men pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Rutland in March.

Federal officials said Dania and Isibor sent emails to employees of local governments, colleges and universities designed to look like they were sent from human resource departments.

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