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Nigerian Man, Chigozie Collins Declared ‘Wanted’ By United States FBI For $30m COVID Fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has listed Nigeria-based fraudster, Chidozie Collins Obasi as wanted for defrauding the New York government of more than $30 million.

According to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office, Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Chidozie Collins Obasi, 29, has been indicted on conspiracy charges on one count of mail and wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud and 16 counts of wire fraud.

This was all due to an intricate and evolving fraud scheme that first targeted Americans offering illegitimate “work from home” jobs through a spam email campaign and then spread during the COVID pandemic. The scam moved to US hospitals and medical systems, offering non-existing ventilators for sale as of March 2020.

Chidozie Collins

The fraud eventually shifted again in June 2020 to using identity information stolen from US citizens to apply for and receive economic damage disaster loans (“EID Loans”).

Prosecutors allege that Obasi perpetrated these scam activities in Nigeria, with the help of co-conspirators in Canada and elsewhere.

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The defendant and his co-conspirators are said to have received over $31,000,000 through this multi-pronged fraud scheme, with the vast majority of that money – over $30 million – coming from New York State for the purchase of respirators.

The scheme alleged in the indictment began in September 2018 with a spam email campaign offering fake “work from home” jobs.

Nigerian Man, Chigozie Collins Declared 'Wanted' By United States FBI For $30m COVID Fraud

When a person responded to the false job offer, Obasi or a co-conspirator posed as a representative of a legitimate company, often a suspected supplier of medical equipment based outside the United States, and offered the person a position as the company’s representative in the US with responsibilities, including a collection of outstanding invoices.

The indictment further alleges that around March 2020, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and ventilators were in high demand, Obasi presented himself as a representative for an Indonesia-based medical supply company that was offering fans for sale and claimed they have a large inventory of fans manufactured by a German company based in Telford, PA.

Nigerian Man, Chigozie Collins Declared 'Wanted' By United States FBI For $30m COVID Fraud

The defendant allegedly convinced a U.S. medical equipment broker to broker the sale of these non-existent ventilators, and ultimately misled New York State by transferring more than $30 million to purchase ventilators that did not exist. Obasi continued to target other potential customers, including hospitals, with the same scam.

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