Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.
Case Number: 2:21-cr-00181
Judge: Gloria M. Navarro
Court: United States District Court for the District of Nevada (Clark County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas
Description: Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with engaging in a fraudulent scheme that spanned numerous states and defrauded more than 3,500 victims seeking to rent houses out of approximately $3.3 million.
Norbert Ozemena Ikwuegbundo, also known as “David Okon Larry” and “Ezekiel Moses Azizi,” (31), a citizen of Nigeria, pleaded guilty in May 2023 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, possession of document-making implements and authentication features, and concealment money laundering. In addition to imprisonment, Ikwuegbundo was ordered to pay $2,223,124.69 in restitution to victims.
According to court documents and admissions made by Ikwuegbundo, from about May 2018 until about September 2019, Ikwuegbundo, co-defendant Omoniyi Johnathan Omotere, and others conspired to fraudulently induce victims into sending them money through wire transfers. As part of the fraud, the conspirators manufactured counterfeit drivers’ licenses and other identification cards with fictitious names but bearing their own photographs. The conspirators assumed the identities of homeowners who were advertising on websites to rent their properties and posted imposter rental advertisements online at reduced rent prices, using the names and personal identifiers of the real homeowners — but changing the contact information to email addresses and phone numbers controlled by the conspirators. When contacted by potential renters, the conspirators requested that potential renters wire money for first and last month’s rent. Throughout the duration of the conspiracy, the conspirators used various lulling techniques, such as sending false rental agreements for victims to sign, so that they would have more time to pick up the wired money.
After collecting the fraudulently obtained funds, the defendants laundered proceeds from the scheme by purchasing salvaged titled vehicles in the United States and then shipped to and sold the vehicles in Nigeria. The profit from the sales was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Ikwuegbundo and Omotere. In total, the defendants fraudulently obtained more than $3.3 million from more than 3,500 victims.
United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson of the District of Nevada, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Miller of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Las Vegas, and Special Agent in Charge Gregory Anderson of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
“Over the course of the conspiracy, the defendant repeatedly deceived and defrauded over 3,500 victims out of a total of $3.3 million,” said United States Attorney Frierson. “This case illustrates our continued efforts with law enforcement partners to pursue individuals who take advantage and steal from others. The restitution ordered will be returned to victims located across the country.”
“Today’s sentence holds Ikwuegbundo accountable for shamelessly defrauding thousands of victims of their hard-earned money,” said Special Agent in Charge Miller. “HSI Las Vegas will continue to prioritize investigations of those who prey on our community and are gratified with today’s sentencing. We appreciate the collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to get fraudsters out of our communities.”
This case was investigated by HSI and DSS. Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Frayn prosecuted the case.
18 USC 1349 - Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
(1s) Sentenced 9/29/2023
18 USC 1343 - Wire Fraud
(2s) Sentenced 9/29/2023
18 USC 1028(a)(5), (b)(1)(C) and (c)(3)(A) - Possession of Document- Making Implements and Authentication Features
(3s) Sentenced 9/29/2023
18 USC 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) - Concealment Money Laundering
(4s) Sentenced 9/29/2023
Outcome: 09/29/2023 92 MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS - Sentencing and Disposition as to Norbert Ikwuegbundo held on 9/29/2023 before Judge Gloria M. Navarro. Crtrm Administrator: NEV; AUSA: Kimberly Frayn; Def Counsel: Nisha Brooks-Whittington, AFPD; USPO: Leo Sanchez; Court Recorder: Araceli Bareng; Time of Hearing: 11:08 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.; Courtroom: 7D.
Defendant is present in custody. The Court and parties discuss the Presentence Report. Probation is ordered to revise the Presentence Report as stated on the record. Defendant addresses the Court on his own behalf. Victim "CR" addresses the Court via Zoom. Sentencing arguments are heard. The Court accepts the guilty plea and enters findings on the record. Sentence is imposed as to Counts 1-4 of the 66 Information. Final Order of Forfeiture and Sealed Restitution List filed. Copy of conditions of release provided to defendant by Probation. Defendant is advised of right to file an appeal. Defendant is remanded into custody.
(no image attached) (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - NEV) (Entered: 09/29/2023)
09/29/2023 93 FINAL ORDER OF FORFEITURE as to Norbert Ikwuegbundo. Signed by Judge Gloria M. Navarro on 9/29/2023. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - NEV) (Entered: 09/29/2023)
09/29/2023 95 JUDGMENT as to Norbert Ikwuegbundo (1), Counts 1s-4s, Sentenced 9/29/2023 : Imprisonment 44 months per count, to run concurrent, Defendant remanded, Supervised Release w/special conditions Three years per count, to run concurrent, Assessment $400.00, Restitution $2,223,124.69. Signed by Judge Gloria M. Navarro on 9/29/23. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - JQC) (Entered: 09/29/2023)