4 Wichita men indicted in worldwide fraud probe

WICHITA, Kan. Five men locally indicted in federal court are among hundreds of defendants charged in an international fraud investigation, U.S. Attorney Stephan McAllister says.

Among the five men indicted in Wichita, four are from the city with the fifth being from Nigera.

McAllister says 26-year-old King Bassey Essien, 20-year-old Franklin Ogochukwu Okapu, 21-year-old Oluwatimileyin Aloaye Frederick Diyaolu and 22-year-old Emmanuel Oluwaseun Daramola, of Wichita and 22-year-old Abasiakara Ime Ekanem, of Nigeria, all face once count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"The indictment alleges the defendants received money from victims of fraud in the United States and foreign countries," McAllister says. "The frauds took many forms including romance scams and investment scams designed to cause victims to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by the defendants and others." "The defendants would transfer the money to other accounts, primarily in Nigeria and Ghana. The defendants also transferred money among themselves, received transfers and made cash withdrawals."

McAllister says the five defendants indicted in federal court in Wichita Tuesday are accused of transferring more than $923,000 to an unindcited conspirator in Lagos, Nigeria and more than $211,000 to another unindcited conspirator, also in Lagos.

"The defendants in Kansas were among more than 280 people arrested in the United States and overseas as a result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Post Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of State," McAllister says.

The widespread investigation targeted many kinds of scams. If convicted on their charges, McAllister says the five men who appeared in federal court in Wichita each face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $500,000.