U.S. District Judge James Moody on Wednesday, April 10, sentenced 39-year-old Nigerian man Okechukwu Desmond Amadi, a/k/a Desmond Amadi, to 11 years and 3 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.
As part of Amadi’s sentence, the court also entered a forfeiture order of $833,625 against him, representing the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct, and ordered Amadi to pay $1,358,500 in restitution to the victims.
A jury had found Amadi guilty on November 7, 2018. According to the evidence presented at trial, Amadi worked with an international criminal organization based in Nigeria that defrauded dozens of victims across the United States with multiple schemes and then laundered the funds through a complex network of bank accounts.
The organization, known as the Neo Black Movement of Africa or the Black Axe Group, coordinated the fraud and money laundering activity around the globe via cells or “zones” in Nigeria, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere.
The Black Axe fraud schemes took several forms. Many of the organization’s victims were widowed or divorced elderly women. Conspirators posed as fake suitors on dating websites to develop relationships with the victims. They then convinced the women to wire money, often consisting of their retirement savings and cash taken out from home equities to bank accounts in the United States as part of a supposed investment opportunity.