Jamaica man sentenced to five years for $4.5 million bank fraud and money laundering scheme

A Jamaica man was sentenced in Manhattan federal court for running a bank fraud and money laundering conspiracy scheme that brought in nearly $6 million over three years.
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A Jamaica man was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday for his role in a wide-ranging bank fraud and money laundering conspiracy, which resulted in the misappropriation of approximately $4.5 million in victims funds.

Chinwendu Alisigwe, 38, was previously convicted following a trial in Manhattan federal court. According to the indictment and evidence offered at trial, from 2017 to 2020, Alisigwe used fake identifications to open 36 separate bank accounts at six different financial institutions, which he opened with more than a dozen fraudulent passports and other bogus identity documents bearing his photograph, but the names of other individuals.

During his criminal conduct, Alisigwe used the names and social security numbers of real people who were utterly unaware that he was using them in his fraudulent activity. After he opened the fraudulent accounts, the accounts received “millions of dollars from various fraud schemes, including a children’s charity, individual bank accounts, a public company, a life insurance company and a county government. In total, Alisigwe received approximately $4.5 million of fraudulent proceeds into his network of bank accounts.

“For years, Chinwendu Alisigwe used fake IDs to open dozens of accounts, which he then used to launder proceeds obtained from victims of business email compromise and other fraud schemes,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

After the fraud proceeds were deposited into the accounts Alisigwe opened, he laundered them through a series of transactions designed to disguise their nature and source, according to the indictment. For example, Alisigwe consistently transferred large sums of his victims’ money from account to account, which he had opened in other people’s names.

After disguising the nature and source of the fraud proceeds through these transactions, Alisigwe wired these funds to bank accounts in foreign countries, including China and the United Kingdom. Alisigwe also spent large portions of the stolen cash on clothing and other personal items.

For example, he used fraud proceeds to make approximately $100,000 in purchases from retail stores such as Zara, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Best Buy and Rockaway Liquor.

He also withdrew approximately $650,000 of the fraud proceeds in cash. Ultimately, the transactions into and out of the 36 accounts opened by Alisigwe amounted to nearly $6 million.

“Alisigwe’s co-conspirators scammed dozens of victims — including individuals, businesses, a county government and a charity that provides wheelchairs for children — into sending money to Alisgwe’s network of bank accounts,” Williams said. “Alisigwe then laundered the money, spending his cut on shopping sprees and sending the rest to his co-conspirators overseas.”

U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who presided over the trial, sentenced Alisigwe to five years imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $499,949.88 in restitution and $4,463,475.80 in forfeiture.

“As today’s sentence demonstrates, money launderers who assist scammers abroad, like Alisigwe, will be held accountable by this office,” Williams said before thanking the FBI for its “outstanding work” during the investigation.