A Nigerian woman, Ivie Shevon Sajere resident in Atlanta, USA has pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy that defrauded two agencies in the United States of nearly $1 million (N570 million using parallel market rate).
Sajere partook in the false filing of online applications for Social Security Administration (SSA) retirement emoluments.
She was also involved in impersonation to enjoy the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster benefits, Nigeria Abroad reports.
“This was a massive fraud that impacted two government agencies and harmed thousands of victims across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.
“The defendant thought she could avoid detection because the scheme was so complex. She was wrong. Through the coordination with multiple federal law enforcement agencies, we were able to identify Sajere and bring her to justice.”
“Sajere and her co-conspirators, brazenly used the stolen personal information of innocent people and abused SSA’s online application process to defraud the government of nearly a million dollars,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration.
“This guilty plea demonstrates the commitment we have to ensuring the integrity of SSA’s eServices and to work with our law enforcement partners to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.”
According to court documents, beginning in approximately June 2017 until September 2018, the defendant and her husband, Neville Sajere, both Nigerians who engaged in marriage fraud in an unsuccessful attempt to become US citizens, participated in the money laundering scheme.
The individual victims whose personal information was coined were often prominent individuals in their fields. It appeared that these individuals were targeted because, even though they were of retirement age, they had not filed for SSA retirement benefits and did not need disaster benefit relief. The victims included a movie director, an award-winning journalist, the daughter of a legendary movie director, and a highly esteemed academic.
Once an application was approved, the fraudsters directed that the funds be deposited onto a Green Dot debit card opened using other stolen personal information.
As soon as the money was credited to the Green Dot debit card, the defendant generated payments through Square, Stripe and Paypal to Nevada Bridge TV, a Nigerian streaming service/television production company owned by the defendant’s husband; BAGMA, an African gospel award show business owned by the defendant’s husband; and Shevonz, a clothing store owned by the defendant.
Sajere pleaded guilty to one count of violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h) (conspiracy to commit money laundering). She also agreed to pay $949,616.40 (N541,281,348 based on parallel market rate) in restitution to SSA and FEMA.
Sentencing for the 37-year-old Ivie Shevon Sajere, of Suwanee, Georgia, is slated for March 8, 2022, at 10:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr.