Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JOSEPH IORHEMBA ASAN JR. was sentenced to 46 months in connection with a scheme to commit romance fraud scams and business email compromises against dozens of victims across the United States, defraud banks, and launder millions of dollars in fraud proceeds to co-conspirators based in Nigeria. ASAN was arrested on October 31, 2019, and pled guilty on December 23, 2020, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Among the many victims of the internet scams facilitated by Joseph Asan Jr. were elderly women and men who were callously fooled into believing they were engaging online with potential romantic interests. This former serviceman and his co-defendant even laundered money stolen from a U.S. Marine Corps veteran’s organization in one of the conspiracy’s email spoofing schemes. Asan’s crimes have indeed led to his own reversal of his fortune, as this former defender of this country now becomes a federal prisoner.”
According to allegations in documents filed in Manhattan federal court:
From at least in or about February 2018 through at least in or about October 2019, ASAN and his co-defendant CHARLES IFEANYI OGOZY were members of the U.S. Army Reserves who participated in a scheme to commit fraud against dozens of victims across the United States, defraud banks, and launder millions of dollars in fraud proceeds in bank accounts that they controlled. The funds laundered by ASAN and OGOZY were obtained primarily through: (a) romance scams, in which members of the scheme deluded unsuspecting older women and men into believing they were in a romantic relationship with a fake identity assumed by members of the scheme, and used false pretenses to cause the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme, including ASAN and OGOZY; and (b) business email compromises, in which members of the scheme gained unauthorized access to or spoofed email accounts and impersonated employees of a company or third parties engaged in business with the company in order to fraudulently induce the victims to transfer money to bank accounts under the control of members of the scheme, including ASAN and OGOZY. Notably, one of the victims of the defendants’ business email compromise scheme included a U.S. Marine Corps veteran’s organization.
In order to launder proceeds from those fraud schemes, ASAN and OGOZY opened several bank accounts in the names of fake businesses called Uxbridge Capital LLC, Renegade Logistics LLC, and Eldadoc Consulting LLC. In total, ASAN opened at least 10 business bank accounts at eight different banks in the names of these fake businesses, and he used those accounts to receive and transfer to co-conspirators overseas over $1.8 million in fraud proceeds from at least 69 identified victims. In connection with the opening of the business bank accounts, ASAN made multiple false statements to banks about the purported business of his companies, including misrepresentations that the companies were involved in shipping, real estate, and public relations. In addition, a significant portion of the laundered funds was deposited and withdrawn in cash that was not able to be traced by law enforcement.
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ASAN, 24, of Daytona Beach, Florida, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. In addition, ASAN was ordered to forfeit $184,723, and to pay restitution of $1,792,015 to victims.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. Ms. Strauss also thanked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance in the investigation.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Sagar K. Ravi is in charge of the prosecution.