The Rise and Fall of Obinwanne Okeke, How He Earned 10-Years Jail Sentence in US Court

Ayodeji Seriki (with agency reports)

Like a pack of cards, the success story of a Nigerian businessman and owner of Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke, aka Invictus Obi, crumbled recently when it was declared that he would spend the next 10 years in prison for his conviction of computer and wire fraud by an American court.

Until August 2019, when he was arrested for fraud, Okeke was a man of means that many young men looked up to as role model. As at the time of his arrest, he was about leaving the United States for Nigeria and held in jail for several months for $11 million (N4.2 billion) fraud. He initially pleaded not guilty and was remanded by different district court judges.

Okeke and other conspirators were accused of targeting American businesses. Unatrac, a subsidiary of heavy equipment giant Caterpillar, was amongst the companies said to have been targeted by the cartel in a business email compromise scheme for several years.

The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices. Okeke participated in the effort to victimize Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.

In June, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit cyber fraud, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims.

According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Raj Parekh, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said, “Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims.”

“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes”.

In 2016, Obinwanne was named in Forbes Africa’s “30 Under 30” list and was featured in the magazine’s June cover. In 2017, Invictus Group was named “Africa’s Most Innovative Investment Company of the Year” by African Brand Congress. The same year, Obinwanne has nominated in the “Young African Business Leader (West Africa)” category for the All Africa Business Leaders Awards ( AABLA).

In 2018, BellaNaija featured Obinwanne Okeke in our Man Crush Monday series. The organisation has since taken the post off its website and deleted from our social media.

“The FBI will not allow cybercriminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cybercriminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”

In June last year, barely a year after he was arrested, Okeke, has admitted to American authorities that his participation in the fraudulent schemes for which he has pleaded guilty “was undertaken knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully and not as a result of an accident, mistake or other innocent reason.”

He said he decided to plead guilty because he realised that the findings by investigators and the ‘statement of facts’ filed in court by prosecutors are true and accurate.

He said had the matter proceeded to trial, he was sure the United States authorities would prove the allegations against him beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Okeke’s explanations are contained in the Statement of Facts submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by G. Zachary Terwilliger (United States attorney), Brian J. Samuels (assistant United States Attorney) and Mathew P. Mattis ( special assistant United States attorney).

Like a pack of cards, the success story of a Nigerian businessman and owner of Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke, aka Invictus Obi, crumbled recently when it was declared that he would spend the next 10 years in prison for his conviction of computer and wire fraud by an American court.

Until August 2019, when he was arrested for fraud, Okeke was a man of means that many young men looked up to as role model. As at the time of his arrest, he was about leaving the United States for Nigeria and held in jail for several months for $11 million (N4.2 billion) fraud. He initially pleaded not guilty and was remanded by different district court judges.

Okeke and other conspirators were accused of targeting American businesses. Unatrac, a subsidiary of heavy equipment giant Caterpillar, was amongst the companies said to have been targeted by the cartel in a business email compromise scheme for several years.

The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices. Okeke participated in the effort to victimize Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.

In June, he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit cyber fraud, including sending phishing emails to capture email credentials, creating fraudulent web pages, and causing other losses to numerous victims.

According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Raj Parekh, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said, “Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims.”

“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes”.

In 2016, Obinwanne was named in Forbes Africa’s “30 Under 30” list and was featured in the magazine’s June cover. In 2017, Invictus Group was named “Africa’s Most Innovative Investment Company of the Year” by African Brand Congress. The same year, Obinwanne has nominated in the “Young African Business Leader (West Africa)” category for the All Africa Business Leaders Awards ( AABLA).

In 2018, BellaNaija featured Obinwanne Okeke in our Man Crush Monday series. The organisation has since taken the post off its website and deleted from our social media.

“The FBI will not allow cybercriminals free reign in the digital world to prey on U.S. companies,” said Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our partners at the Department of Justice and our foreign counterparts to locate cybercriminals across the globe and bring them to the United States to be held accountable.”

In June last year, barely a year after he was arrested, Okeke, has admitted to American authorities that his participation in the fraudulent schemes for which he has pleaded guilty “was undertaken knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully and not as a result of an accident, mistake or other innocent reason.”

He said he decided to plead guilty because he realised that the findings by investigators and the ‘statement of facts’ filed in court by prosecutors are true and accurate.

He said had the matter proceeded to trial, he was sure the United States authorities would prove the allegations against him beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Okeke’s explanations are contained in the Statement of Facts submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by G. Zachary Terwilliger (United States attorney), Brian J. Samuels (assistant United States Attorney) and Mathew P. Mattis ( special assistant United States attorney).

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