NEWARK, N.J. – A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man has been charged with laundering money obtained from a variety of internet-based scams, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Kenny Osas Okuonghae, 35, of Edison, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of money laundering conspiracy. He is scheduled to have his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2019 through the present, Okuonghae laundered money that was obtained from a variety of internet-related scams, including property rental scams, romance scams, and a “pig butchering” scam involving a purported cryptocurrency investment platform called “Alphacoin.” “Pig butchering” refers to an internet scheme where a romance scam victim develops what the victim perceives to be a romantic relationship online with the perpetrator. The perpetrator emotionally “fattens” the victim up before enticing the victim to invest in a fake cryptocurrency scheme and then, metaphorically, “slaughters” the victim by taking the victim’s real money that he or she placed in the fake cryptocurrency investment scheme.
Okuonghae opened several bank accounts across at least seven banks and permitted fraudulent proceeds to be deposited into these accounts. One of the scams from which Okuonghae received illegal proceeds was the Alphacoin scam. Another scam involved a deposit for rental property that was not actually available to rent. Okuonghae told at least one bank that the money was coming from a legitimate customer who wished to buy car parts from Okuonghae. Okuonghae also circulated at least one false invoice made out to a victim for the purported purchase of a Mack truck. Okuonghae laundered at least $2.1 million through his accounts.
The money laundering conspiracy charged in the complaint carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the transfer, whichever is greater.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s charge. He also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Customs and Border Protection for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie H. Solano of the Cybercrime Unit in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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