BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three Maryland men are facing federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to allegedly sell COVID-19 vaccines.
Olakitan Oluwalade, 22, of Windsor Mills; his cousin Odunayo Baba Oluwalade, 25, of Windsor Mills; and Kelly Lamont Williams, 22, of Owings Mills are all charged.READ MORE: Masks Required For All In Anne Arundel County-Owned Buildings, Unvaccinated County Employees To Undergo Weekly Testing
The affidavit states that on January 11, the HSI Intellectual Property Rights Center and the HSI Cyber Crimes Center learned of a fraud replication of the website of a biotechnology company based in Massachusetts focusing on drug and vaccine development, including a COVID-19 vaccine.
The homepage of the website, named, “Modernatx.shop” looked similar to the real company’s website, with the same name and trademarked logos.READ MORE: Health Officials Investigating COVID-19 Outbreak At Cecil County Fair
The affidavit alleges the fake website read on its homepage “YOU MAY BE ABLE TO BUY A COVID-19 VACCINE AHEAD OF TIME,” with a link to “Contact us.”
An HSI Special Agent contacted a number listed on the fake website. The number replied two minutes later requesting an email address to contact the undercover agent, which they gave. The affidavit alleges that around four minutes later, they got an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, purporting to welcome the undercover agent to the company along with a description of the company and the vaccine’s storage requirement.
After several more emails, the agent was sent an invoice for 200 doses of the company’s vaccine, charging $30 a dose, for $6,000 total. The payment terms were listed as 50% upfront and 50% upon delivery. The agent was told to send a payment to a Navy Federal Credit Union account in the name of Kelly Lamont Williams, which they did.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Maryland: Positivity Rate Rises To 3.23%, 25 Hospitalized
This led to searches of all three men’s homes and their arrests.