Obinwanne Okeke, a Forbes-rated Nigerian billionaire and CEO of Invictus Group has been arrested by the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over $12 million fraud.
Okeke was arrested last week in the US for allegedly defrauding top American companies of huge sums. Notably, alleged to have scammed $12 million from a steel company by hacking into an executive’s office365 account and sending an email with a fake invoice to purchase department.
Special agent Marshall Ward of the FBI and his team opened up an investigation in July 2018, following a petition by Unatrac Holding Limited which led to his arrest.
The charge sheet reads in part “In June 2018, Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment, headquartered in the United Kingdom, contacted the FBI. They reported that Unatrac had been victimised through an email compromise, which ultimately resulted in fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly 11million US Dollars. After reviewing the documentation provided by the representatives, the FBI opened an investigation in July 2018.
“The FBI discovered that after capturing the legitimate credentials of Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer, the accused was able to log in and access the CFO’s entire Office365 account, which included all of his emails and various digital files, the logs indicated that between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the intruder accessed the CFO’s account 464 times, mostly from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from Nigeria.
“With full access to the account, the intruder sent fraudulent wire transfer requests from the CFO’s email account to members of Unatrac’s internal financial team. The intruder also attached fake invoices to the emails to enhance the credibility of the requests,” the investigator stated. The investigation, painstaking and far-reaching, lasted more than a year during which Obinwanne emerged as the principal culprit and has since been arrested while on his regular visit to the United States.”
It is not clear how he made the list of Forbes 100 Most Influential Young Africans in 2018, Okeke founded the Invictus Group of Companies, an investment conglomerate into construction, agriculture, oil and gas, renewable energy, telecoms and real estate, operating in three African countries-Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
Invictus Group of Companies was named Africa’s Most Innovative Company of The Year by African Brand Congress in 2017.
Before his arrest, Obinwanne Okeke was a celebrated businessman who had a ‘grass to grace’ story on Forbes. The suspect is said to be the 17th child of a polygamous father who died when he was 16 and had to move from one relative to another before moving to Australia where he “did all kinds of jobs just to survive.”
He became a viral sensation after he featured in ‘Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30’ list in 2016. Okeke was also nominated for the All African Business Leaders Award for Young Business Leaders (West Africa) in 2018, the AABLA is the most prestigious award for African businessmen/entrepreneurs.