Woodberry, Hushpuppi’s ally, pleads guilty to fraud

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Olalekan Jacob Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry
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Olalekan Ponle, also known as Woodberry, has pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in a federal district court in the United States.

His sentencing date has been set for July 11 by the Northern Illinois District Court.

 

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Woodberry is well-known to be an ally of another Nigerian international fraudster, Ramon Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, who was jailed last year.

On June 10, 2020, the two men were arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for extensive international online scams and flown to the United States to face separate trials.

Hushpuppi, who initially pleaded not guilty, changed his plea to guilty in April 2021, just before the start of a full-fledged trial. The US District Court for the Central District of California, where prosecutors charged him, sentenced him to 11 years in prison and ordered him to pay $1.7 million in restitution in November 2022.

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Woodberry, accused of defrauding a US company of approximately $188,000, maintained his innocence for over two years as well. According to court documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, he made a U-turn and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud during a change of plea hearing at the US District Court for Northern Illinois this April.

In a ruling issued on April 6, the judge, Robert Gettleman, accepted the defendant’s change of plea.

 

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He set July 11 for sentencing after accepting Woodberry’s plea agreement with US prosecutors.

The judge referred the case to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence investigation and report, which would help him decide what sentence to impose.

 

He gave the US government 60 days before the sentencing date to provide a list of victims and their full current contact information to the Probation Office and the courtroom deputy in order to obtain the court’s order of restitution.

“Any amounts subject to restitution shall be included on the list.” If the government is unable to provide the complete victim list 60 days before sentencing, they must file a motion requesting an extension of time to compile the information, according to the judge.

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Woodberry and Fraud

In pleading guilty, Woodberry admitted to defrauding a New York company known as “Victim Company B” of nearly $188,000 through online scams involving business email compromise schemes.

According to US prosecutors, beginning in January 2019, Mr Ponle and his co-conspirators “were engaged in a business email compromise scheme targeting Victim Company B and other companies, which resulted in a fraudulent wire of approximately $188,191.50 to a bank account.”

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How fraudulent plot was hatched

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