Chidozie Collins Obasi, a 29-year-old Nigerian, is wanted by US authorities for allegedly defrauding the state of New York of over $30 million through a series of fraudulent activities involving his accomplices in Canada and other parts of the world.
A notice put out by the Philadelphia Office of the US Federal Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reveals that Obasi and his cohorts obtained over $31 million via a multi-faceted fraud scheme.
The majority of the aforementioned sum came from the state of New York for the intended purchase of ventilators.
The FBI disclosed that Obasi and his accomplices started their fraudulent scheme in September 2018 using a spam email company that offered phoney “work from home” jobs through which they successfully scammed their victims of at least a million dollars.
Revealing how the fraud was perpetrated, the FBI shared: "When a person responded to the phoney job offer, Obasi or a co-conspirator posed as a representative of a legitimate company, often a supposed medical equipment supplier based outside the United States, and offered the person a job as the company’s U.S. representative with responsibilities including collecting on outstanding invoices.
"A co-conspirator in Canada then sent the new 'employee' counterfeit checks purportedly from customers of the company, and the new 'employee' deposited the checks, took a commission, and wired the rest of the money to a foreign bank account ostensibly owned by the fake company.
"As alleged in the Indictment, Obasi and his co-conspirators obtained more than $1 million in this manner."
Obasi and his allies shifted to COVID-19 fraud in March 2020 after the United States was hit by the pandemic, posing as representatives of an Indonesian company dealing in then much sought-after ventilators manufactured by a German company whose headquarters was in Telford, PA.
The FBI stated that through the new scheme, they were able to steal $30 million from the state of New York and some hospitals.
"The defendant allegedly convinced a medical equipment broker in the U.S. to broker sales of these non-existent ventilators, and ultimately deceived the State of New York into wiring more than $30 million for the purchase of ventilators that did not exist.
"Obasi continued to target other potential customers with this same scam, including hospitals.
"That Obasi and his co-conspirators also took advantage of the EID Loan program by using stolen identities of U.S. citizens to apply for and obtain more than $135,000 in EID Loan proceeds in June 2020.
"The Indictment alleges that Obasi perpetrated this fraud from Nigeria, with the help of co-conspirators in Canada and elsewhere.
"The defendant and his co-conspirators are alleged to have obtained more than $31,000,000 through this multi-faceted fraud scheme, with the overwhelming majority of that money – more than $30 million – coming from the State of New York for the intended purchase of ventilators.
"Obasi is presently a fugitive, and the United States is seeking to locate and arrest him. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts should contact their local FBI Office", the FBI said.
If convicted, Obasi faces a minimum sentence of 621 years in prison, a five-year period of supervised release, and a $5,750,000 fine.
He will also be required to make full restitution of the more than $31,000,000 that he obtained by fraud.