GREENBELT, MD –Kosi Goodness Simon-Ebo, age 29, a Nigerian nation residing in South Africa, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, related to a business email compromise (“BEC”) scheme with intended losses of the conspiracy of more than $6 million. Simon-Ebo arrived in the United States on April 12, 2023, after being extradited from Canada.
The guilty plea was announced by Erek L. Barron, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and Special Agent in Charge Matthew R. Stohler of the U.S. Secret Service - Washington Field Office.
According to his plea agreement, from February 2017 until at least July 2017, Simon-Ebo conspired with others to perpetrate a BEC scheme. Specifically, Simon-Ebo and his co-conspirators, including co-conspirators residing in Maryland, gained unauthorized access to email accounts associated with individuals and businesses targeted by the conspirators and sent false wiring instructions to the victims’ email accounts from “spoofed” emails, which are emails with forged sender addresses, to deceive the victims into sending money to bank accounts controlled by perpetrators of the scheme, called “drop accounts.”
Further, during the same time frame, Simon-Ebo and his co-conspirators conspired to commit money laundering by disbursing the fraudulently obtained funds in the drop accounts to other accounts by initiating account transfers, withdrawing cash, obtaining cashier’s checks and by writing checks to other individuals and entities, to hide the true ownership and the source of those assets. As detailed in the plea agreement, the intended loss for transactions in which Simon-Ebo was directly involved—which were some, but not all of the transactions involving Simon-Ebo and his co-conspirators—was approximately $6,988,249 and the actual loss resulting from these transactions was at least $1,072,306. Simon-Ebo had direct control over at least $45,925 of the funds obtained from victims.
According to the plea agreement, Simon-Ebo will be required to pay a money judgment in the amount of $45,925 and pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, which the parties agree is at least $1,072,306.
Simon-Ebo faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy and for the money laundering conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled sentencing for November 29, 2023, at 2:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI’s Mid-Atlantic El Dorado Task Force and the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation and thanked the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for providing substantial assistance in securing the arrest and extradition. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly O. Hayes, who is prosecuting the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
# # #