HUNTINGTON, WV (WVNS) — A citizen of Nigeria living in Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced recently to two years and two months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents, Kenneth Ogudu, also known as Kenneth Lee, 28, was also ordered to pay $324,865.85 in restitution.
From May 2019 to October 8, 2020, Ogudu participated in a romance fraud scheme that defrauded more than 200 victims, many of them elderly, of at least $2.5 million. Ogudu was living in Huntington during part of this conspiracy, from May 2019 to December 2019.
The scheme targeted individuals looking for love, friendships, and professional business relationships, and went on many different social media platforms to find his victims. Ogudu used different names with different backstories, in which co-conspirators could also participate in the scheme.
By convincing these victims and forming a relationship with them, Ogudu was able to convince his victims to send money for a variety of false and fraudulent reasons for the benefit of the false personas he had made up.
Ogadu later admitted to allowing his victims to transfer money to his bank account that he knew was from unlawful activity. He also kept some of the money for himself and forwarded some of the money to his co-conspirators by either wiring transfers or through Zelle.
Ogadu further admitted that he disguised the nature of his money and where it was being transferred, adding to the money laundering scheme. He and his co-conspirators also transferred large sums of money to offshore accounts, totaling in obtaining funds from at least 12 different fraud victims during the money laundering conspiracy.