Raymond Hushpuppi’s comrade-in-cyber crime, OLALEKAN JACOB PONLE, also known as “Mr. Woodberry” or “Mark Kain,” was arraigned on a separate charge in Chicago today.
The 29 year-old who was arrested in Dubai last month, was charged in U.S. District Court in Chicago with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The criminal complaint accuses Ponle of orchestrating “business email compromise” schemes to defraud several U.S.-based companies.
The schemes resulted in attempted or actual losses to victim companies in the tens of millions of dollars, including a Chicago-based company that was defrauded into sending wire transfers totalling $15.2 million, the complaint states.
Ponle was arrested last month by law enforcement in the United Arab Emirates, where he had been residing.
He was subsequently expelled from the UAE into the custody of the FBI and arrived in Chicago Thursday evening.
Ponle’s alleged cyber fraud scheme spanned at least the first nine months of 2019.
The complaint describes several instances in which one or more unknown subjects gained unauthorized access to a U.S.-based company’s email account and sent messages to unwitting employees claiming to be from the company or a known business contact.
The emails were nearly identical to prior legitimate emails sent over the company’s email account, but the fraudulent emails instructed victims to wire funds to a bank account that was set up by money mules at the direction of Ponle, the complaint states.
Ponle then instructed the mules to convert the fraud proceeds to Bitcoin and send them to a virtual wallet that Ponle owned and operated, the complaint states.
In addition to the Chicago-based companies, other victims included companies based in Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, and California, the complaint states.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The complaint and expulsion were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs at the Justice Department provided substantial assistance.
The government of the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai Police Department provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melody Wells of the Northern District of Illinois is prosecuting the case.
Read the full Indictment here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/press-release/file/1292061/download