US: Two Nigerian athletes face 10 years in jail for wire fraud

A UNITED States District Court in Hattiesburg, Mississippi State has found two collegiate athletes, Emmanuel Ineh, 23, and Toluwani Adebakin, 25, guilty of transferring thousands of dollars to Nigeria as part of a complex fraud scheme.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew W. Eichner.

This was contained in a statement today by U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of FBI’s Jackson Field Office, and made available on the website of the US Department of Justice.

According to court documents, Ineh and Adebakin pleaded guilty to violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, for engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activities, collectively sending tens of thousands of illicitly obtained proceeds to fraudsters in Nigeria as part of a larger mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.

The scheme involved track-and-field athletes from multiple higher learning institutions in the United States, with part of the conspiracy being operated out of Hattiesburg, while Ineh and Adebakin were track-and-field teammates at William Carey University.

William Carey University was reportedly cooperative throughout the investigation.

Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on February 15, 2023 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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