SHERMAN, Texas – A Nigerian man has been sentenced to federal prison for fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.
Shalom Olumide Ayotunde, 39, pleaded guilty on July 1, 2021, to passport fraud, false claim to U.S. citizenship, wire fraud, and false statement to a financial institution, and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III. In addition, the judge ordered Ayotunde to pay restitution of $1,067,000.
According to court documents, in June 2018, Ayotunde provided false identifying information in his application for a U.S. passport, and in doing so, also falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen. Ayotunde was also involved in falsifying numerous applications for Payment Protection Program loans and ultimately received more than $1 million in fraudulent PPP loan proceeds. Additionally, evidence showed that Ayotunde was part of a conspiracy to defraud companies through business email compromise schemes and acted as a money mule when he knowingly received and transferred proceeds of fraudulent activity. Evidence showed that Ayotunde received or attempted to receive more than $800,000 in stolen funds. A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Ayotunde with federal violations on Nov. 13, 2020.
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 the 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. In addition, they use 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.
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 victim’s needs and identifying appropriate next steps. Case managers will identify relevant 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 10:00 am until 6:00 pm Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. English, Spanish, and other languages are available.
The U.S. Department of State-Diplomatic Security Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Camelia Lopez was the prosecutor.