BOSTON – A Lynn man pleaded guilty today in connection with money laundering and visa fraud.
Fortune Aikorogie, a/k/a Imuetinyan Aikorogie, a/k/a Fortune Aikoriogie, a/k/a Imuetinyan Aikoriogie, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a bank, five counts of money laundering and one count of visa and passport fraud. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for Oct. 14, 2020. In March 2019, Aikorogie was charged by indictment.
On Sept. 28, 2016, Aikorogie used a counterfeit Zimbabwean passport and U.S. visa bearing his photograph, but with the fictitious name “Tinashi Chipo,” to open an account at a branch of TD Bank in Dracut. Aikorogie had obtained the counterfeit documents from a friend in Africa to whom he had texted a photo of himself. Between Oct. 5 and Dec. 15, 2016, two women in Texas whom Aikorogie did not know wired a total of $75,500 into the Chipo account. They did so at the request of fraudsters who romanced them online. One victim was a 71-year old widow with advanced Parkinson’s disease and the other was a 78-year old retiree. Aikorogie withdrew the money from the Chipo account in cash and delivered it to men he did not know at the direction of his friend in Africa. A bank investigator became suspicious of the account activity and called the phone number on the Chipo account signature card. Aikorogie answered, pretending to be Tinashi Chipo, and claimed that the wired money was for his uncle’s construction business. The investigator told “Chipo” that the bank was going to close his account and to visit a branch. Aikorogie went to the Lawrence branch, where he was met by local police, who confiscated the counterfeit passport and visa.
The charge of making a false statement to a bank provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000. The charge of visa/passport fraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; William B. Gannon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, Boston Field Office; and Lawrence Police Chief Roy P. Vasque made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.