SHERMAN, Texas (KETK) – 23 people, many from Texas, were indicted in an international fraud scheme that managed to bilk $17 million from victims.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the 23 individuals were indicted in early September, but it was not unsealed to the public until Monday.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei alleges the conspiracy began around January 2017 and involved several different methods to steal money, including:

  • Online romance scams
  • Compromising business emails
  • Investor fraud
  • Unemployment insurance fraud

The indictment states that the conspirators “not only coordinated how to extract money from their victims, but how to disguise, disburse, and launder that money once they successfully defrauded their victims.”

“The criminal conduct alleged in this case is sophisticated in its means, expansive in its scope, and callous in its aims. The indictment alleges a scheme where all manner of fraud—including romance and investment scams—was unleashed on an unsuspecting American public, including the elderly and most vulnerable, with the ill-gotten gains syphoned off and funneled overseas. The amount of loss, both financial and emotional, alleged in this case is nothing short of staggering.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei

Ganjei has accused the group of stealing at least $17 million from at least 100 individuals, companies and government entities around the world. They allegedly targeted elderly persons and used schemes such as online dating sites.

The statement reads that the suspects sent the money to “bank accounts, co-conspirators and businesses located in Africa and Asia. Below is the full list of people charged in the case:

  • · Kingsley Ita, aka “Baron” “Sifk,” 42, of Dallas;
  • · Irabor Fatarr Musa, aka “Fatai” “Head JJ,” 51, of Richardson;
  • · Solomon Esekheigbe, 48, of Katy;
  • · Sandra Iribhogbe Popnen, aka “General,” 46, of Allen;
  • · Edgal Iribhogbe, aka “Oseme,” 50, of Allen;
  • · Damilola Kumapayi, aka “Luke Morris,” 33, of Dallas;
  • · Ehiedu Onyeagwu, aka “Young,” 58, of Rosedale, Maryland;
  • · Mathew Okpu, 57, of Temple Hille, Maryland;
  • · Benedicta Atakare, 46, of Temple Hills, Maryland;
  • · Segun Adeoye, 47, of Pearland;
  • · Chidindu Okeke, aka “Steve,” 28, of Richmond;
  • · Ngozi Okeke, 47, of Katy;
  • · Nosoregbe Asemota, aka “Patrick Asemota,” 46, of Melissa;
  • · Chigozi Ekwenugo, 53, of Grand Prairie;
  • · Bukola Obaseki, 48, of Allen;
  • · Stella Hadome, 43, of Allen;
  • · Jequita Batchelor, 37, of Farmers Branch;
  • · Osaretin Eghaghe, aka “Biggie,” 37, of Plano;
  • · Ejiro Ohwovoriole, 29, of McKinney;
  • · Isaac Asare, aka “Asarko,” 48, of Houston;
  • · Gold Ude, 44, of Wylie;
  • · Henrietha Oziegbe, 23, of Lexington, Kentucky; and
  • · Kingsly Oziegbe, 25, of Edinburg.

The group is charged in the Sherman office of the Eastern District of Texas. Each person faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office; Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General; Department of State; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service; Allen Police Department; Denton Police Department; Dallas County Sheriff’s Office; and Texas Department of Public Safety. This case is being prosecuted by the Plano Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas with assistance from Northern District of Texas Assistant U.S. Attorneys.