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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Woodberry pleads guilty to internet fraud, forfeits millions in cash, property

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Olalekan Jacob Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry and an associate of infamous Nigerian fraudster Hushpuppi, has pleaded guilty to internet fraud charges. He had initially denied the eight-count charge against him but changed his plea and admitted to one of the indictments in the United States District Court.

The charge was for participating in a fraudulent scheme known as business email compromise (BEC), which involved duping seven companies to the tune of $8 million.

As part of the plea agreement, Ponle is required to repay the defrauded companies and forfeit to the United States all his property, including luxury cars and designer watches, obtained directly or indirectly through the proceeds of the crime. These assets include a Rolls Royce Cullinan, a Lamborghini Urus, a Mercedes-Benz G-class, four Rolex watches, one Patek Philippe watch, three Audemars Piguet watches, three gold and diamond-studded earrings, and six gold neck chains.

This is not the first time Ponle is forfeiting assets to the American government. Last year, he lost 151.8 Bitcoin, equivalent to $6 million, in a similar case. Ponle was arrested in Dubai, UAE, in June 2020, along with Hushpuppi, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence in the United States for similar fraud charges.

The case highlights the need for strict enforcement against fraudulent schemes like BEC, which is estimated to have caused businesses worldwide to lose billions of dollars. It also shows that internet fraudsters are increasingly using sophisticated tactics to defraud their victims, making it necessary for law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant in detecting and prosecuting cybercriminals.

Ponle’s guilty plea and forfeiture of millions in cash and property is a significant victory for law enforcement agencies in the fight against internet fraud. It sends a strong message to potential fraudsters that cybercrime does not pay and that they will face the full consequences of their actions

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