UAE-Based Fraudster Gets 8 Years Jail Time for Stealing $8M in Crypto

Elliot Gunton

A UAE-based fraudster on Monday received an 8-year jail sentence for stealing $8 million from US companies, the Department of Justice (DOJ) stated on its website. The Nigerian scammer Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as “Mr. Woodbery,” employed cyber scam schemes on his victims and converted the proceeds through money mules to Bitcoin.

Ponle, arrested in June 2020, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges earlier this year. Woodbery’s scam scheme led to a loss of about $8.03 million in actual loss and up to $51 million in intended loss. His victims resided in Chicago, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, California, and other unnamed locations.

Ponle and Accomplish Used Psiphing Links

Mr. Woodbery and his accomplice, Mark Kain, 31, used a phishing link in 2019 to hack into the victim’s email accounts, where they would order the victim’s employees to send funds into a designated bank account created by money mules for Ponle and his co-scammer.

The fraudsters also used cloned emails and usually fashioned their emails to depict those of the company, convincing the employees to follow their instructions as though they were from their employers. Upon receiving the money, Ponle would order the money mules to convert the funds to Bitcoin and transfer them to him.

Scammer to Restitute Cash, Luxurious Properties

As pronounced by US District Judge Robert W. Gettleman, Ponle would spend eight years and four months in federal prison. He will also restitute the $8.03 million stolen from victims and forfeit all tangible properties in his possession. 

Ponle acquired luxurious fleets of cars and other possessions with the scam proceeds, which included a Rolls Royce Cullinan, a Lamborghini Urus, a Mercedes-Benz G-Class AMG G55, Rolex and Patek Philippe watches, and so on. Ponle has already relinquished 151 bitcoins ($4.5 million) to government officials as part of the traceable possessions from the wire fraud scheme.

The US DOJ has clamped down on a couple of crypto-related scams in recent times. The department recently arrested a security engineer who stole $9 million from an unnamed crypto exchange and indicted two Russians who were part of the Mt. Gox hack in 2011.

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