38-year-old Ikechukwu “Ike” Amadi said to be a dual citizen of Nigeria and Canada, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of the fraud charges against him.
The convict who is a member of Black Axe which started off as a fraternal organization in Nigerian universities in the 1970s before eventually evolving into an organized crime group, was linked to a complex international fraud scheme responsible for losses in excess of $10 million.
The fraudulent scheme was uncovered after six years of painstaking investigation carried out by FBI agents and federal prosecutors following a complaint of a clever check-fraud scam that had bilked a small Georgia law firm out of nearly $100,000.
Ike and 14 other defendants were accused of “sitting in internet cafes in Nigeria to conduct fraud online.”
FBI Special Agent Devin Williams, who headed the investigation said the convict and others carried out “romance scams” in which they posed as potential suitors by sticking to a detailed script to gradually charm their victims, often lonely widows. They also reportedly conducted a research on their victims’ hometown and further claimed to live nearby, all aimed at luring them with a phony investment opportunity, convincing them to cash in their retirement savings or home equity and wire it into a bank account in the United States.
Ike was linked to the fraud case after a law firm lost about $96,000 after someone posed as a business owner seeking payment of a debt from another company. The bank account the money was sent to was found to belong to one Muhammad Naji.
He corporated with FBI agents, revealing that he worked for a Canadian who goes by the name “Melvin” . Melvin was found to be Ike. Naji was described as a money mule whose job was to open bank accounts often in the names of shell companies, store the ill-gotten monies as deposits and send it overseas before the theft could be discovered. He received 5 to 10 percent of the stolen funds, Ike also got a cut while the rest goes to the Black Axe.
Naji identified other money mules which include one Priscilla Ellis, a Texas woman who helped create high-quality forgeries of checks and other documents. The lady whose prison release date is a century away, made headlines after she arranged the contract killings of witnesses who had testified against her.
Ike who fought against being extradited to the United States was arrested in 2015, pleaded guilty in July 2019 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Tampa Bay Times reported that the total loss attributed to Ike totaled more than $10 million and the 15-year-sentence issued by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday was at the high end of what federal guidelines suggested.