Oregon Tool Incorporated, a U.S.-based company that sells farming equipment and precision cutting tools, has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay $1.7 million fine for shipping multibillion-naira worth of tools to two Nigerian fraudsters known as ‘Yahoo Boys’, without carrying out due diligence, documents obtained by Peoples Gazette showed.
Regulators from the U.S. government accused Oregon Tool Inc. of enabling two Internet scammers of Nigerian descent to use their company as an intermediary to collect fraud proceeds in exchange for agricultural equipment.
“The USAO (U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Oregon) will not criminally prosecute the Company or any of its parents, subsidiaries or affiliates for any crimes relating to the conduct described in the Statement of Facts attached hereto as Attachment A, including and Abetting an Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ d 2,” the agreement dated September 20 and signed by U.S. attorney Natalie K. Wight and assistant attorney William Narus and Quinn Harrington.
The business organisation denied the allegations but agreed to pay the fine in exchange for non-prosecution over their laxity in enforcing policies that would have made the financial crime impossible to commit.
Unbeknownst to the company, ‘Yahoo Boys’ were asking their victims to transfer money into Oregon Tool accounts, which they said was payment for expensive farming tools to be shipped to Nigeria. The equipment, upon landing in the West African nation, were then sold for millions of naira.
The company said it was not aware the monies came from fraud victims but could not thoroughly argue their innocence since their account housed monies from entities defrauded by the Nigerian scammers.
The fraudsters, between 2014 and 2020, perpetrated the fraud because of the porous and ineffectual policies of the company, which did not follow the laid down rules and regulations of the U.S. government.
The company received money from entities who do not bear the same name as the recipient of the invoice and cargo, running afoul of the U.S. anti-money laundering regulation, which recommends that the invoice should carry the same name as the cargo recipient.
“The nature and seriousness of the offence conduct that, among other things, involved receiving payments for products sold to two Nigerian distributors from 2014 to 2020 under circumstances in which employees of Blount were aware that the payments were transmitted to Blount through unlicensed money services businesses,” reads the agreement dated September 20.
A statement on the company website states that Oregon Tool Inc., which was formerly known as Blount International Inc., changed its name in 2021 to unite all of its other brands.
The authorities have given Oregon Tool Inc. some credit for its full cooperation in making amends for its wrongdoing with the USAO and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In exchange, the authorities agreed not to prosecute the company as long as a $1.724,802.75 million fine was paid and global anti-money laundering controls were implemented.
Also, Oregon Tool Inc terminated all business transactions with the Nigerian ‘Yahoo Boys’ to shield their company from litigation by the American authorities who frown on such corrupt practices.
The FBI did not immediately disclose the identities of the fraudsters but the crime underscores different methods and lengths Nigerian fraudsters can go to defraud others.
Ramon Abbas, also known as Ray Hushpuppi to his millions of Instagram fans, and his partner Woodberry, whose real name is Olalekan Ponle, were jailed for coordinating multimillion-dollar scams involving business email compromise schemes.
While Woodberry has already begun serving his eight years and three months jail time, Hushpuppi would spend 11 years languishing in a U.S. prison facility to pay for his crime.