Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that FATADE IDOWU OLAMILEKAN, a/k/a “Fatade Olamilekan Idowu,” a/k/a “Olamilekan Idowu Fatade,” a/k/a “Idowu Fatade,” a citizen of Nigeria, was sentenced to five years in prison in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain and attempt to obtain millions of dollars of medical equipment, laboratory products, computer equipment and hardware, and other merchandise from suppliers of such merchandise across the United States by impersonating, among other individuals, procurement officials of U.S. state and local governments and educational institutions. OLAMILEKAN was arrested in Nigeria on October 1, 2021, and extradited from Nigeria to the United States on July 14, 2022, and he has been detained since his arrest. The defendant previously pled guilty to wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Fatade Idowu Olamilekan carried out a sprawling criminal scheme from Nigeria to fraudulently obtain medical equipment and other merchandise by impersonating government officials, including the Chief Procurement Officer for New York. Olamilekan will now face substantial prison time for his criminal conduct. This case demonstrates that we will go to great lengths to pursue defendants located abroad who seek to defraud American businesses and individuals.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment and other court documents:
From at least in or about 2018 through at least on or about September 14, 2020, OLAMILEKAN engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and attempt to obtain millions of dollars of medical equipment, laboratory products, computer equipment and hardware, and other merchandise from suppliers of such merchandise across the United States by impersonating, among other individuals, procurement officials of U.S. state and local governments and educational institutions. In particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic, OLAMILEKAN impersonated the Chief Procurement Officer of New York State in an effort to fraudulently obtain medical equipment, including defibrillators. OLAMILEKAN engaged in the following conduct to carry out his criminal scheme:
First, OLAMILEKAN engaged in extensive research to identify specific procurement officials of U.S. state and local governments and educational institutions to impersonate and U.S. suppliers of medical, laboratory, and computer equipment to target as part of the scheme. This research included obtaining information about the current suppliers to the state and local governments and educational institutions OLAMILEKAN sought to impersonate and targeting those suppliers in order to avoid arousing suspicion. For example, OLAMILEKAN appears to have specifically targeted a medical supplier that was already providing medical equipment to New York State in or to avoid suspicion when OLAMILEKAN, who was impersonating the Chief Procurement Officer of New York State, contacted the supplier to obtain medical equipment.
Second, after OLAMILEKAN identified procurement officials to impersonate, he used aliases and a Lithuanian web hosting company to register email accounts with domains that had slight variations from the legitimate email accounts used by procurement officials in order to “spoof” or impersonate those officials’ email accounts (the “spoofed emailed accounts”). The spoofed email accounts used by OLAMILEKAN usually had the same username as the procurement official’s email account but added an extra letter or common domain name to the domain of the email account. These spoofed email accounts were therefore specifically designed to trick suppliers to impersonated procurement officials into thinking the spoofed email accounts were authentic. In total, OLAMILEKAN registered and used spoofed email accounts impersonating at least (i) eight different procurement officials of state and local governments in California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont; and (ii) three procurement officials of educational institutions located in Georgia and New York.
Third, OLAMILEKAN used the spoofed email accounts to send emails impersonating the procurement official and seeking quotes for medical, laboratory, and computer equipment from targeted suppliers. These emails typically indicated that the payment terms would be “net 30 days,” which is a standard term of trade credit for government and educational entities that only requires payment for the goods within 30 days of delivery. OLAMILEKAN therefore impersonated the identities of procurement officials of government entities and educational institutions in order to exploit this industry standard and fraudulently obtain equipment without providing any advance payment information or deposit prior to delivery of the equipment.
Finally, once OLAMILEKAN received a response from a targeted supplier, he provided the supplier with a purchase order containing the forged signature of the impersonated procurement official and an address for a warehouse located in the United States for delivery and storage of the equipment purchased. Once the purchased items shipped to the warehouse provided by OLAMILEKAN, he typically had the warehouse re-ship the items to another warehouse and, ultimately, from the United States to locations in Australia, the United Kingdom, and/or Nigeria. OLAMILEKAN also coordinated with the warehouses receiving the shipments from the targeted suppliers using the stolen identity of at least one U.S. resident, thereby further concealing his own identity and avoiding detection of his criminal activity. Because payment was not due to the suppliers until 30 days after delivery of the equipment, OLAMILEKAN was able to take possession of the equipment prior to detection of the fraud, which typically occurred after payment was not received by the supplier within the 30-day period.
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In addition to the prison sentence, OLAMILEKAN, 41, of Lagos, Nigeria, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $306,852.18.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Williams also thanked Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (“EFCC”), the Central Authority Unit of Nigeria’s Ministry of Justice, and the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their assistance in the investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from Nigeria.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sagar K. Ravi is in charge of the prosecution.