Business Owner Who Participated in Business E-Mail Compromise Fraud Scheme Sentenced to 10 Years in State Prison
The owner of a Van Nuys business pleaded guilty on Monday to four felony counts related to a $1.75 million complex fraud scheme. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Horwitz immediately sentenced Ifeoma Nkwocha (dob 5/5/62) in case BA458968 to 10 years in state prison. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Warren Kato of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Cyber Crime Division.
Nkwocha pleaded guilty to three counts of grand theft and one count of filing a false tax return, while also admitting a special allegation that the loss in the case exceeded $500,000. As part of the plea, she was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,753,705, and she was also ordered to pay the California Franchise Tax Board $204,544 for taxes owed.
Ifeoma Nkwocha owned Chim Logistic Cargo in Van Nuys. Between February and May of 2015, the company acted as a conduit to receive over $1.75 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds and disburse it via wire transfers and withdrawals. Nkwocha also never paid any state income tax for the fraudulently obtained proceeds. The business obtained the funds through a fraud scheme called business e-mail compromise (BEC).
BEC is a complex, often multi-national, fraud scheme in which business victims are duped into wiring money to a criminal enterprise via e-mail instructions under the false pretense that the wires are actually going to legitimate vendor accounts. This type of fraud is also known as “wire-wire” fraud.
According to the FBI, between October, 2013, and December, 2016, the total loss due to BEC crimes is approximately $5.2 billion from over 131 different countries. In the greater Los Angeles area, the loss is estimated to be more than $5.3 million per month. In order to combat this threat, the FBI established the FBI Cyber Task Force (CTF) in Los Angeles in 2015. This multi-agency task force is comprised of law enforcement officers from the FBI; the Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Ventura County District Attorney’s Offices; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; and the San Bernardino Police Department.
This case was investigated jointly by the FBI CTF and the California Franchise Tax Board, with assistance from the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA).
- FBI Press Relations: (310) 996-3343
- Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office: (213) 257-2000
Release No. 032318_1