A Federal district court in Hattiesburg, Mississippi State found two Nigerian collegiate athletes, Emmanuel Ineh, 23, and Toluwani Adebakin, 25, guilty of sending thousands of dollars to Nigeria as part of a sophisticated fraud plan.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted the investigation, while Assistant US Attorney Andrew W. Eichner handled the prosecution.
Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the FBI’s Jackson Field Office and US Attorney Darren J. LaMarca provided this information in a statement released on Thursday. The statement was also posted online by the US Department of Justice.
Ineh and Adebakin pleaded guilty to violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957, according to court documents. Together, they sent tens of thousands of illegally obtained proceeds to con artists in Nigeria as part of a broader mail fraud, wire fraud, in addition to money laundering conspiracy.
Track and field players from several American colleges and universities were also implicated in the scheme, with part of the conspiracy being operated out of Hattiesburg. However, Ineh and Adebakin were track-and-field teammates at William Carey University.
According to reports, William Carey University cooperated with the inquiry.
Both defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 15, 2023 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.