Two Nigerian athletes have been convicted in the United States for their part in a complex fraud scheme, US authorities said recently.
According to a statement released by the US attorney’s office of the southern district of Mississippi, Emmanuel Ineh, the long jumper, and Toluwani Adebakin, the sprinter, pleaded guilty to charges of “sending thousands of illicitly obtained proceeds to fraudsters in Nigeria as part of a larger mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.”
The scheme is said to have involved students of “multiple higher learning institutions in the United States.”
“Two collegiate athletes were convicted today before U.S. District Judge Kristi Johnson for transferring thousands of dollars to Nigeria as part of a complex fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Jackson Field Office,” the statement, dated November 10 reads.
“According to court documents, Emmanuel Ineh, 23, and Toluwani Adebakin, 25, pleaded guilty to violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, for engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activities, collectively sending tens of thousands of illicitly obtained proceeds to fraudsters in Nigeria as part of a larger mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.
“The scheme involved Track and Field athletes from multiple higher learning institutions in the United States, with part of the conspiracy being operated out of Hattiesburg while the Ineh and Adebakin were Track and Field teammates at William Carey University. William Carey University was cooperative throughout the investigation.”
Ineh represented Nigeria at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games where he won silver while Adebakin is a 200m and 400m runner.
Both defendants, who risk at least ten years in prison are scheduled to be sentenced on February 15, 2023, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Cover Pix: Toluwani Adebakin convicted Nigerian athlete