The Federal Bureau of Investigation – FBI – has declared a Nigerian wanted for allegedly defrauding the State of New York more than $30m.

Twenty-nine-year-old Chidozie Collins Obasi allegedly posed as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company offering ventilators for sale in March 2020 – at the peak of Covid-19 pandemic, the FBI said.

The Nigerian allegedly told New York officials the Indonesian-based company had a large stock of German-manufactured ventilators, the US attorney’s office disclosed Friday in a statement.

New York State reportedly wired $30m for the purchase of the nonexistent ventilators, according to the FBI.

The FBI added: “The indictment further alleges that in approximately March 2020, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and ventilators were in high demand, Obasi posed as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company offering ventilators for sale, and claimed to have a large stockpile of ventilators manufactured by a German company whose headquarters was in Telford, PA.

“The defendant allegedly convinced a medical equipment broker in the U.S. to broker sales of these non-existent ventilators, and ultimately deceived the State of New York into wiring more than $30 million for the purchase of ventilators that did not exist.

“Obasi continued to target other potential customers with this same scam, including hospitals.”

The FBI also alleged that Obasi and a co-conspirator offered phony work-from-home jobs to US citizens in Sept. 2018, obtaining more than $1 million from them.

“When a person responded to the phony job offer, Obasi or a co-conspirator posed as a representative of a legitimate company, often a supposed medical equipment supplier based outside the United States, and offered the person a job as the company’s U.S. representative with responsibilities including collecting on outstanding invoices.

“A co-conspirator in Canada then sent the new “employee” counterfeit checks purportedly from customers of the company, and the new “employee” deposited the checks, took a commission, and wired the rest of the money to a foreign bank account ostensibly owned by the fake company. As alleged in the indictment, Obasi and his co-conspirators obtained more than $1 million in this manner.”

The FBI further disclosed that Obasi and his co-conspirators stole identities of US citizens, using them to apply for and obtain more than $135,000 of the Covid-19 economic injury disaster loan in June of 2020.

Obasi is a fugitive and risks a maximum sentence of 621 years in prison if caught and convicted, the FBI said.


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