SHERMAN, Texas – A Nigerian man has been sentenced to federal prison for federal fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston of the Eastern District of Texas. Sobanke Idris Sunday Adereti, 24, pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2021, to passport fraud and attempted bank fraud, and was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle.
According to court documents, in March 2021, Adereti presented a false passport and a falsely procured certified check when trying to open a bank account in Flower Mound, Texas. The check was purchased by a fraud victim who was induced into sending money to Adereti, falsely known as “Robinson Elijah.” He was likely acting as a money mule to cash the victim’s checks. When Adereti was arrested, he had additional passports and bank statements in other names in his possession. Investigators determined that Adereti was also connected to scams related to business email compromise fraud and other government program fraud. Additionally, evidence showed that Adereti was the son of a Nigerian traditional ruler and entered the United States on a visitor’s visa in 2018, which has since expired.
“Scams to steal money are around every corner,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “Thanks to the keen eye of bank officials, Adereti was apprehended. Unfortunately, many of these crimes target our vulnerable elder population. It is up to all of us to share this awareness and look out for our greatest generation.” A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Adereti with federal violations on April 7, 2021.
This case is part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative. If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This U.S. Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim, and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 10am-6pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
This case was investigated by the Diplomatic Security Service for the U.S. Department of State, the Flower Mound Police Department, the U.S. Small Business Administration – Office of Inspector General, the United States Secret Service, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.