CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal jury convicted a 40-year-old Charlotte man on Wednesday for his involvement in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scheme that defrauded at least six companies of close to $2 million dollars.
Federal authorities say Chukwudi Okwara, 40, is convicted of 27 counts of money laundering, false statements to banks, and aggravated identity theft for his involvement in this case.
Authorities say beginning in 2018, Okwara used fake documents to open multiple mule bank accounts.
Okwara then used these accounts to receive and launder the proceeds of BEC scams, according to trial evidence.
Authorities say the money mule accounts Okwara opened were initially funded with small deposits, and then victims of the BEC schemes were tricked by scammers to wire large amounts of funds into these accounts.
After receiving the money from his victims, Okwara used false and stolen identities and made financial transactions with the fraudulently obtained proceeds in order to hide their origin including making large cash withdrawals, purchasing official checks, and sending wires to other bank accounts under his control.
Authorities say “Okwara’s money laundering convictions carry a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $500,000 fine per count; the five counts of conducting financial transactions with illegal proceeds carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine per count; the two counts of submitting false documents to banks carry a maximum prison term of 30 years and a $1,000,000 fine per count; and the two counts of aggravated identity theft carry a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, per count, to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.”
Okwara is currently in federal custody awaiting his sentencing date, according to a news release.