Obinwanne Okeke to undergo treatment for ‘fraud mentality, drug abuse’

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The young Nigerian entrepreneur, Obinwanne Okeke, who was on Tuesday sentenced by a U.S. court to 10 years in prison for multi-million-dollar wire fraud, has been ordered to undergo treatment for “fraud mentality” and drug abuse.

A judge of an Eastern District court of Virginia, Rebecca Smith, ordered Mr Okeke to be incarcerated in a medical facility where he would be subjected to ”full medical and mental health evaluation and treatment”.

The evaluation cum treatment is part of the rehabilitation process to reform his conduct before he completes his jail term and is reintegrated into the society, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

PREMIUM TIMES, on Thursday, obtained the sentencing documents of the court where 33-year-old Mr Okeke, also known as Invictus Obi, had pleaded guilty to wire fraud before being sentenced on Tuesday.

Profile

Mr Okeke, the Chairman of his Abuja-based Invictus Group, was until his arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the U.S. in August 2019, a globally renowned businessman, public speaker, and philanthropist.

U.S. authorities revealed after his arrest that he connived with some individuals, who remained at large, to defraud companies and individuals within and outside the U.S. over a period of at least four years.

He and the other conspirators defrauded the United Kingdom office of Unatrac Holding Limited, which has its headquarters in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), of nearly $11 million in 2018.

Fraud mentality, drug abuse treatment

After sentencing him to 120 months (10 years) in jail on Tuesday, the judge in her recommendations to the Bureau of Prisons, recommended that “the defendant be incarcerated in the facility at the Federal Medical Centre at Butner, North Carolina or a similar medical facility.”

“The defendant shall undergo a full mental health evaluation and receive all appropriate mental health treatment and counselling, in particular for his fraud mentality,” the judge added.

She also said Mr Okeke “shall receive a full medical evaluation and shall receive all appropriate medical treatment for any conditions he may have.”

On drug abuse, she ordered that “the defendant shall undergo a substance abuse evaluation and receive all appropriate substance abuse treatment and counselling.”

Post-offence rehabilitation

In an earlier pre-sentencing filing, Mr Okeke’s lawyer, John Iweanoge, had while canvassing factual and legal arguments for a lesser sentence for his client, confirmed that the convict would undergo post-offence conduct rehabilitation.

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He said the rehabilitation included drug abuse and anger management programmes.

He said: “in terms of rehabilitation, Mr Okeke, who has been separated from his 19-month-old daughter, family, community, and country, has learnt his lesson from this case and a strong deterrence value in the fact that Mr Okeke has already served about 18 months of any sentence that is being asked to be imposed by this court with treatment.

“His post offence conduct rehabilitation included but (is) not limited to substance abuse and anger management programmes.”

Mr Iweanoge said the convict had additionally “completed six (6) other Christian fellowship programs from the South Eastern Missionary, Inc, while at Western Tidewater Regional Jail”.

He said Mr Okeke ”had also been mentoring some inmates at the same facility”.

Background

Mr Okeke was arrested on August 6, 2019, after a criminal complaint about computer and wire fraud aimed at defrauding Unatrac Holding Limited was levelled against him.

He was arrested at Dulles International Airport, Virgina, as he prepared to depart the U.S. after a visit to witness the birth of his 19-month-old daughter born on July 15, 2019.

On September 9, 2019, he was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Mr Okeke, who initially denied the charges, later entered into a plea bargain agreement with the U.S. authorities and pleaded guilty to count 1 on June 18, 2020.

The guilty plea helped Mr Okeke to secure the withdrawal of the second charge that carries lesser sentence and fines.

Scheme

U.S. authorities accused him of playing a leading role in “a sophisticated West African based business email compromise and computer fraud conspiracy” between 2015 and 2019.

It said Mr Okeke and his conspirators defrauded hundreds of victims within and outside the U.S by sending “phishing emails” to various businesses in a bid to obtain log-in credentials of employees.

Mr Okeke, a celebrated young Nigerian citizen who operated a group of companies known as the Invictus Group, was said to have operated behind a number of email addresses and accounts.

He used the emails to engage in extensive discussions with other conspirators about creating fraudulent web pages, designed to trick unsuspecting users into providing their account credentials.

The prosecution said he and his conspirators obtained legitimate credentials of other individuals which they used to commit fraudulent acts targeting businesses and individuals to obtain money and other property.

The fraudsters, through this means, gained access to protected computers without any authorisation, sent fraudulent wire transfer requests, used fake invoices, viewed and downloaded files belonging to other individual and business victims.

They then compiled and coopted the credentials of hundreds of victims throughout the United States and other countries, through which they obtained the funds of individuals and business entities.

The U.S. prosecution said he and his conspirators, sometimes in 2018, defrauded the United Kingdom office of Unatrac Holding Limited of nearly $ 11 million through the fraudulent techniques.

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