Indianapolis car dealer charged in $7M international fraud scheme

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An Indianapolis business owner has been arrested and charged with participating in a scheme that defrauded investors from more than 20 countries out of at least $7 million.

Tochukwu Nwosisi, 47, owner of used car dealership Indyrides LLC, 4510 W. Washington St., was charged with one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and one count of concealment money laundering. He made his initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice say Nwosisi laundered proceeds from the scheme through his dealership.

Five other individuals from outside of Indiana were previously indicted in the case in February. Investigators say some of the individuals falsely portrayed themselves as agents of New York-based JPMorgan Chase and North Carolina-based Branch Banking & Trust Corp. to make fraudulent investment deals.

Uju Okigbo, 48, and Chioma Okafor, 28, both of Houston, were each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, wire fraud and money laundering. Okigbo was also charged with engaging in transactions with proceeds of specified unlawful activity and aggravated identity theft.

Marita Ranalan Underwood, 61, of the Philippines; John Christian Rutledge, 64, of Yaphank, New York;  and Osa May Martin, 68, of Carthage, Missouri, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to wrongfully use government seals.

Investigators say perpetrators, primarily in Nigeria, impersonated U.S. bank officials over the phone and online to victims. Some met with the victims at local U.S. embassies or consulates, and fabricated documents to make the victims believe the U.S. government was sponsoring the investment agreements.  

Proceeds were laundered through U.S. bank accounts and diverted back to the scheme’s perpetrators in Nigeria.

Investigators say Nwosisi received wire transfers from victims into his business bank accounts. The victims were under the impression that such payments were necessary to receive their investment funding.

Nwosisi allegedly kept a portion of the funds for himself and used the rest to purchase vehicles that he shipped to the scheme’s perpetrators in Nigeria. 

A message left for Nwosisi at a phone number listed for IndyRides was not immediately returned Friday morning.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and Department of State Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted by the Southern District of Texas.

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