Babatope Aderinoye’s victims ranged from a school district to charities. The 30-year-old Plano resident and Nigerian national stole money from a non-profit that helps families of terminally ill patients. He swiped an elderly man’s identity and drained hundreds of thousands from his retirement account.
But Aderinoye’s scam wasn’t as simple as asking people for money via phone or email. First, he opened fraudulent bank accounts at several banks, including Bank of America, Capital One Bank and Wells Fargo. He used fake passports under another person’s name to open the accounts and verified the accounts using fake utility and cable bills. Federal prosecutors claimed he had 13 individual and 12 business aliases, according to his Oct. 8, 2019, indictment.
Aderinoye and his co-conspirators conducted what federal prosecutors called “business email compromise schemes.”
According to the federal indictment, they sent fake emails to charities, non-profits, school districts and senior citizens. They usually pretended to be a company representative, business or contractor that conducted business with the entity or person targeted.
Last week, Aderinoye was sentenced to 34 years in federal prison for various bank fraud and money laundering conspiracy violations. He was also ordered to pay $1,919,526.13 in restitution.
“Business Email Compromise is a financially devastating scam that targets both businesses and individuals,” FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno told CBS DFW in a March 26 report. “The FBI is committed to holding cyber criminals accountable for the harm they do to everyday citizens and our financial institutions.”
Sadly, scams like Aderinoye’s are becoming all too common in Collin County, according to the Collin County Sheriff’s Office. CCSO Public Information Officer Jessica Pond said phone and email scams are something the department frequently has to handle.
“We receive more about phone scams than email,” Pond said. “We see an increase in scams around the beginning of the year, and it starts to taper off around summer.”
How Aderinoye’s Scam Worked
Federal officials became aware of Aderinoye’s scam sometime around August 2018, according to his indictment. In early October 2018, he conned some professional financial investors for $352,000. Four days later, he nabbed $100,000 from a pipe company. He then targeted a school district in early January 2019 and received an unknown amount of money.
In the emails, Aderinoye and his co-conspirators would ask the victim to change their current payment method. They would then ask the victim to wire a specific amount of money into one of Aderinoye’s fake accounts. Afterwards, they’d withdraw or transfer the money to other fraudulent bank accounts, personal bank accounts or Aderinoye’s account in Nigeria. They used the money to buy things like cars for personal use or to resell them, according to the indictment.
From June 2018 to Sept. 2019, they stole more than $6.7 million and almost all of the funds were withdrew or wired internationally, according to the Oct. 14 DOJ press release. The FBI investigated and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wes Wynne and Will Tatum prosecuted the case.
Local Profile contacted the U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson for the Eastern District, but she couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time.
The Sentence and Tips
After a four-day trial in October, the jury convicted Aderinoye on several charges, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Aderinoye’s 34-year sentence and restitution came just five months later.
It’s unclear how Aderinoye will pay restitution since he will be in prison for the rest of his life.
But even though Aderinoye is locked up, there are still others out there — including some of his co-conspirators, whom the FBI is working to identify.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office offers several ways to avoid email scams, such as using a spam filter, avoiding posting your email address publicly and keeping your computer software updated, according to its website.
Pond also offered a few tips to avoid phone scams, especially ones involving the sheriff’s office. She said the sheriff’s office will never call and ask you to pay with a prepaid card. They also won’t call to barter with you over a loved one’s bond. And if you receive this call, Pond suggests that you hang up before giving any information and call the sheriff’s office at 972-547-5100 and ask to speak with records.
Sadly, as technology improves, so do the techniques scammers use to pretend to be someone else. So if you do fall prey, Pond said to take down as much information as you can about the scammer — their email, phone number, name, etc. — and contact your local law enforcement agency.