Olalekan Jacob Ponle, 29, popular on Instagram as Woodberry, who allegedly orchestrated an international cyber fraud scheme targeting several U.S.-based companies has been charged in U.S. District Court in Chicago with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Woodberry was arrested last month in the United Arab Emirates, where he was living, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago. He was expelled from the country and into FBI custody and arrived in Chicago Thursday night. He appeared in court Friday morning to face a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
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 totaling $15.2 million, the complaint states.
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 fraudulent emails instructed people to wire funds to a bank account set up by “money mules” at Ponle’s direction, prosecutors say. The complaint alleges Ponle directed the mules to convent the proceeds of the fraud into Bitcoin and send them to a virtual wallet that Ponle owned and operated.
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.
See screenshots of the conversation Woodberry unknowingly had with the FBI agent.