A Bowie man was sentenced in federal court on July 30 to 18 months in federal prison for the false use of a passport, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office.
Arinze Michael Ozor, 37, a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel, III. The sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release for forgery or false use of a passport, in connection with his use of false passports to open “drop accounts” for a money laundering conspiracy.
Judge Hazel also ordered Ozor to pay $43,000 in restitution. The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in charge Edwin Guard of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.
According to his plea agreement, Ozor used at least two fraudulent passports as part of a money laundering conspiracy to open eight “drop accounts” to receive the proceeds from fraud schemes. The schemes included business e-mail compromise schemes and romance fraud schemes.
The funds that were deposited to the accounts were largely disseminated to other entities as part of the conspiracy by Ozor and others. Specifically, Ozor admitted that he used a Ghanaian passport in the name of Kelvin Green to open accounts at five banks between Dec. 2017 and Jan. 2018.
Although the passport contained purported identifiers for Green, it contained Ozor’s photograph. One of the banks froze the account due to suspicion of fraudulent activity and Ozor met with a banker to discuss regaining of the account and presented the same Ghanaian passport in support of his request.
Ozor further admitted to using a purported Beninese passport in the name of Jacob Hessou to open accounts in three more banks from March 23, 2018 through May 1, 2018. As with the Ghanian passport, the Beninese passport contained purported identifiers for Hessou but contained Ozor’s photograph.
The investigation found that Ozor did not have a valid passport from Ghana or Benin. In addition, the Kelvin Green Ghanaian passport number and Jacob Hessou Beninese passport number were actually issued to other individuals by the respective governments and not to Green or Hessou.
More than $976,000 was involved in the money laundering conspiracy from the eight accounts opened by Ozor using the fraudulent passports. United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the DSS for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Wright, who prosecuted the case.