Money laundering, fraud, email hacking, it’s all included in this case.

A Rhode Island man pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to fraud schemes connected to business email compromise.  One of those businesses targeted was a Dorchester real estate attorney.

Sayon Balogun, a 32-year-old from Nigeria, pleaded guilty this week to one count of money laundering conspiracy. Balogun is a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States was charged by criminal complaint in May 2019 and arrested a few weeks later in Florida.  According to a statement from the US attorney’s office, he’s scheduled for sentencing on November 10th.

The statement goes on to say that Balogun’s co-conspirators gained access in  to email accounts belonging to a Massachusetts attorney engaged in real estate closings in 2018. The co-conspirators then mimicked the real estate attorney’s email account and sent emails to a Massachusetts resident who was the purchaser in a legitimate real estate transaction.

The copied emails directed the buyer to wire transfer $531,981, which the purchaser believed was for the real estate transaction, to the Wells Fargo account of a California woman. This woman in turn sent $60,000 to an account in the name of “David Tecum,” a fraudulent identity used by one of Balogun’s co-conspirators, Oghenetchouwe Adegor Ederaine Jr.

This account and others were opened by Ederaine to receive fraudulent proceeds at Balogun’s direction. Ederaine previously pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and money laundering conspiracy and was sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Balogun faces a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds laundered in the conspiracy.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.


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