BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A federal grand jury indicted three foreign nationals on charges related to a bank fraud scheme in which the trio attempted to obtain more than $3.5 million by defrauding businesses and banks.

According to the indictment, the defendants are 31-year-old Damilola Lawal of Windsor Mill, 39-year-old Idowu Ademola Raji of Pikesville and 30-year-old Akolade Ojo of Owings Mills.  They were charged with federal wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, passport fraud, and aggravated identity theft in a 12-count indictment that was returned on Oct. 26 and unsealed on Nov. 4 during their initial court appearances.

Federal authorities said the trio conspired with four others to defraud businesses and financial institutions by allegedly using false, forged and counterfeited passports and other identification documents to create limited liability companies and open fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities.

The indictment alleges the defendants then used a messaging app to communicate about financial transactions directing members regarding the deposit, withdrawal, transfer, and conversion of fraudulently obtained funds.

In one incident on Sept. 27, 2019, a co-conspirator sent a victim a fraudulent e-mail purporting to be from the victim’s attorney, advising the victim to send a $65,000 wire transfer to an account controlled by another co-conspirator as a part of a real estate purchase.

Using a messaging app, they sent photographs and messages to show the victim was making the wire transfer. Once the money arrived, one of the co-conspirators was asked to obtain a cashier’s check and make cash withdrawals.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy and for each count of wire fraud. Lawal also faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for passport fraud; and Raji faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed for aggravated identity theft.

At the initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Boardman ordered that that all three defendants be detained pending a detention hearing. Detention hearings for Ojo and Lawal are scheduled for November 13, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., respectively, and a detention hearing for Raji is scheduled for November 18, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.

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