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Forbes Under 30 Nigerian Entrepreneur Charged In US Over $12m Fraud

Over a month ago we wrote about 7 Zimbabweans who made it on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Being featured on the List is an achievement for many entrepreneurs as it puts them in a prestigious spotlight.

However, the List has been criticized for not taking any due diligence in the form of investigating the businesses some of ‘entrepreneurs’ claim to have. Now critics will reinforce their arguments owing to the arrest of a Nigerian entreprenuer, Obinwanne Okeke who was once featured on the List in 2016

What’s up with Obinwanne Okeke

Okeke is the founder of Invictus, a company that has vested interest in real estate, energy and construction and which operates South Africa, Zambia and Nigeria.

The once-celebrated Forbes Africa Under 30 entrepreneur was arrested by the law enforcement agency after a painstaking investigation that commenced in July 2018.

Okeke is being charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud worth US $12 million. He is said to have done this through hacking into a certain steel company’s office365 account through a phishing email and generate fake invoices. As one report narrated:

In June 2018, Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment, headquartered in the UK, contacted the FBI, reporting that Unatrac ad been scammed out of $11 Million USD. Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer fell for a phishing email that contained a login link to a fake Microsoft Office365 website. When the CFO entered his userid and password, it was sent to the criminals. Between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the CFO’s account was logged into from IP addresses mostly in Nigeria on 464 different occasions.

From April 11 through April 19th, they paid 15 fraudulent payments, included three invoices for “Pak Fei Trade Limited” in the amounts of $278,270.66, $898,461.17, and $1,957,100.00. Altogether, $11 million USD was sent out of the company.

The investigation led FBI into Google’s offices where it found out that the email address used in phishing attacks where traced back to Okeke.

Okeke has already appeared before the court where he didn’t contest his detention. So now he is set to appear before the grand jury to determine whether his crimes should make him stand for trial in court.


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