New Jersey man sent to prison 6 years for transnational fraud schemes

A Camden County, New Jersey, resident was sentenced to six years in state prison on September 15, 2023, for his role in laundering money for a transnational fraud scheme that used multiple scams to defraud victims of nearly $1.5 million.

Christopher Akeme, 39, of Sicklerville, pleaded guilty on May 26, 2023, to one count of financial facilitation of criminal activity (2nd degree).

He admitted participating in a scheme to defraud three vulnerable individuals out of large sums of money and to money laundering, by facilitating the movement of those funds to conceal their illicit source. Akeme directed the transfer of the funds to bank accounts in the United States before the money was transferred to offshore accounts.

The victims of the fraud schemes included two California residents and a resident of Germany, who were each scammed out of six-figure sums at various times from 2017 to 2020.

One California resident was a victim of a romance scam in which she suffered a $926,414 loss. The victim drained her retirement savings and investment accounts to financially support a long-distance romantic relationship with a person that did not exist, believing she was helping that fictitious individual with an overseas development project and with medical expenses.

Another California resident was the victim of an inheritance scam. The victim suffered a $116,630 loss by sending money purportedly to release unclaimed funds in a bank account in Barcelona, Spain, that the victim’s friend supposedly inherited.

The German victim was the target of a real-estate investment scam with a romance scam component initiated on social media. That victim suffered a $491,645 loss by sending money to supposedly invest in a condominium in New Jersey.

Akeme facilitated the movement of the stolen funds derived from the multiple scams by receiving the funds into bank accounts under his control in the United States before sending the funds to various bank accounts in Nigeria.

“This defendant shamelessly exploited vulnerable victims in the United States and abroad using a variety of scams,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “This prosecution serves as notice that New Jersey will not be a haven for fraud. We will bring fraudsters to justice, even if the victims are across the nation or the world.”

“Unfortunately, the scams used in this case to steal money and funnel funds to others in Nigeria are common scams that harm victims worldwide,” said Pablo Quiñones, Legal Chief of the Office of Securities Fraud and Financial Crimes Prosecutions (OSFFCP). “This case demonstrates our resolve to disrupt sophisticated transnational fraud and money laundering networks and seek justice for the vulnerable victims harmed by such scams.”

The case was handled by Deputy Bureau Chief Alyssa Bloom and Deputy Attorney General Jeremy Lackey with the OSFFCP, under the supervision of OSFFCP Legal Chief Quiñones. The investigation was conducted by numerous detectives with the Division of Criminal Justice in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, and the New Jersey Division of Taxation.

This case is a reminder that fraudsters can come from anywhere and can target anyone, regardless of their location. It is important to be aware of the different types of scams that are out there and to take steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim. If you think you may have been a victim of fraud, you should report it to the authorities immediately.

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