NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today the unsealing of the indictment of EMMANUEL UGBAJA (“UGBAJA”), age 53, of Duluth, Georgia. UGBAJA was charged in a three-count federal indictment with one (1) count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956 and two (2) counts of Money Laundering in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957.
The indictment alleges that in 2018, two persons were victimized by two separate internet scams – one from Kansas sent money to an unknown co-conspirator posing as a love interest in what is known as a “romance scam” and the other from California sent money to a person posing to be an attorney in what is known as an “inheritance scam.” At the direction of the co-conspirators, the victims were told to send the funds to a bank account controlled by UGBAJA. UGBAJA retained a portion of the funds for himself and then sent the victim funds in the amount of $60,000 total to a local maritime broker, Bourg Marine, as part of a down payment for the unrelated purchase of a vessel.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of ten (10) years imprisonment, up to three (3) years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000.00 per count or twice the gross gain to the defendant of twice the gross loss to the victim, and a $100 mandatory special fee for each count.
U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
This indictment is part of an ongoing national effort by the Department of Justice to address online fraud schemes often based overseas that target U.S. citizens. The public is encouraged to report potential online fraud activity or scams to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at https://www.ic3.gov/.
The United States Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera of the Financial Crimes Unit.