A Nigerian national made his initial appearance in a US federal court in Cleveland last Friday following his extradition from Ghana to the Northern District of Ohio to face charges for his alleged role in an internet scam.
Blessing Adeleke, 31, of Nigeria, was charged in a 17-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and 16 counts of bank fraud.
He was allegedly involved in a conspiracy that obtained stolen financial information, made fraudulent and unauthorized purchases of retail goods and gift cards and stole funds from victim bank accounts in Northern Ohio and elsewhere.
Ghanian authorities arrested Adeleke on March 14, 2022, in Accra, Ghana. Following judicial proceedings, Ghanaian authorities transferred Adeleke into US custody on June 28, 2022.
During his initial appearance, Adeleke waived his detention hearing and was remanded to the custody of the US Marshals.
According to court documents, from January 2014 through October 2016, Adeleke served as an administrator for an online marketplace, Shad0w.info, where compromised data, such as credit numbers and personally identifiable information (PII), were sold.
As part of the conspiracy, it is alleged that Adeleke and others obtained stolen credit card information and purchased items, such as retail goods and gift cards for themselves. It is alleged that Adeleke shared this stolen credit card information with others, including co-defendant Kylie Ann Harlow.
The indictment states that Adeleke and Harlow shipped retail goods purchased with the stolen financial information to Harlow and others and, in some instances, returned the goods and gift cards to retail stores to obtain cash. It is alleged that Adeleke and Harlow eventually forwarded the fraudulently obtained goods, gift cards and cash to other members of the conspiracy for their personal enrichment.
Additionally, Adeleke is charged with gaining access to online victim bank accounts in Northern Ohio and elsewhere and transferring thousands of dollars to Harlow and other members of the conspiracy.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
In a statement, The US Department of Justice thanked its Ghanaian partners, specifically the Ministry of Interior and the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, for supporting the extradition.
"The FBI Legal Attaché in Accra and the U.S. Marshals Service also provided significant support and assistance to Adeleke’s extradition," the statement said.