A 36-year-old Nigerian, Arinze Michael Ozor has been arrested by security officials in Maryland over his involvement in a money-laundering conspiracy involving nearly $1 million.
The suspect pleaded guilty last week to federal charges of forgery or false use of a passport, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said in a release Monday.
He’s a dual citizen of the U.S. and Nigeria.
Ozor used at least two passports to open eight so-called “drop accounts”, prosecutors said.
He took more than $976,000 from business email compromise schemes and romance fraud schemes and put it in those accounts.
Officials say Ozor used a Ghanaian passport to open five bank accounts and a Beninese passport to open three additional accounts. The money was then largely sent to other entities involved in the schemes.
Ozor admitted that he used a Ghanaian passport in the name of Kelvin Green to open the accounts between December 2017 and January 2018. Although the passport contained purported identifiers for Green, it contained Ozor’s photograph. When one of the banks froze the account due to suspicion of fraudulent activity, Ozor met with a banker to discuss regaining access to the account and presented the same Ghanaian passport in support of his request.
Ozor further admitted that from March 23, 2018 through May 1, 2018, he used a purported Beninese passport in the name of Jacob Hessou to open accounts at three additional banks. As with the Ghanaian passport, the Beninese passport contained purported identifiers for Hessou, but contained Ozor’s photograph.
The investigation found that Ozor does not have a validly issued passport from Ghana or Benin. In addition, the Kelvin Green Ghanaian passport number and the Jacob Hessou Beninese passport number were actually issued to other individuals by the respective governments and not to Green or Hessou.
Ozor is expected to be sentenced in May. He could spend up to 10 years in prison.
An attorney representing Ozor didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment, The Baltimore Sun reported.