Adesuwa Renee Ogiozee, a popular Instagram auto dealer patronised by music star Davido and several other celebrities, has been indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury after being arrested by the FBI over multimillion-dollar fraud, including a romance scam of about $560,000, court documents obtained by Peoples Gazette showed.
Documents in the case showed the self-proclaimed No1 car broker in Africa was first indicted on December 2, 2020, for charges bordering on conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. She faces 20 years in jail if convicted, American authorities said.
Ms Ogiozee, alongside four other co-conspirators, including a 37-year-old Nigerian based in Atlanta, Olutayo Sunday Ogunlaja, were tracked down by FBI agents after bilking $560,000 from a female victim resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Federal agents said further investigations exposed how Ms Ogiozee moved more than $3 million in suspicious transactions through her American bank accounts, adding that she also falsified form 1040 tax claims to the Internal Revenue Service.
Although the car dealer was initially alleged to have received $12,000 from the romance scam, with which she procured a Mercedes Benz vehicle, it was soon discovered that she committed more “extensive” financial crimes and was the leader of a syndicate fleecing people on the Internet.
“Federal agents have accumulated evidence, however, that proves the defendant’s involvement in fraud and other criminal activity is much more extensive,” the FBI criminal complaint said.
The FBI arrested Ms Ogiozee, an accounting graduate from the Delta State University Abraka, at her residence in Missouri on September 16, 2021, about a year after her arrest warrant was issued. She claimed she didn’t know why federal authorities couldn’t locate her for over a year.
The auto dealer, who also had a degree in theology from a Texas institution, made her first appearance in the Eastern District of Missouri on September 17, 2021. She was subsequently released on a $25,000 bond, with conditions.
She was placed on home detention, with some of her bank accounts closed for fraud, her movements restrained to three hours daily every weekday and her U.S. passport confiscated. The court had argued that if not detained pending trial, she would likely obtain a Nigerian passport and flee overseas using her vast contacts.
While the discovery process, a pretrial procedure, was fixed for November 3, 2022, the trial on the matter had been scheduled to commence on February 6, 2023, before Judge Martha Vazquez in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
During the investigation, it was also established that the Edo State-born CEO of Adesuwa motors LLC incorporated in 2016, falsified her tax information between 2015 and 2019. Also, the FBI found that she made over $3,000,000 in transactions on her account between August 2016 and September 2017.
“In tax year 2016, the defendant claimed she earned $872,000 in income, yet incurred business expenses totalling $862,000,” it said. “In tax year 2019, she claimed a gross income of $120,000 but business expenses of $60,000.”
The federal agents described the auto dealer’s tax information as “suspicious” based on her bank accounts, popularity on social media and “flaunting her lifestyle and holding herself out as ‘the number one auto broker in Africa.”
She, however, did not return The Gazette’s request seeking comments on whether she was maintaining her innocence ahead of her trial in 2023.
Ms Ogiozee, who has over time touted herself as a car dealer with luxury vehicles sold Davido’s Rolls Royce, which was valued at about N240 million. She also regularly promotes commercial skincare products and other items to her over 300,000 Instagram followers.
In its March 7, 2020 publication, Vanguard reported that Ms Ogoizee spoke against crimes across Africa and estimated that the auto dealer sold over 3000 cars across the continent. It identified singer MC Galaxy and other celebrities to have patronised her business, although she couldn’t account for the source of her auto dealership venture.
Her trial comes as Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas and other Nigerian fraudsters with vast following on Instagram are being sentenced in the U.S. for their respective roles in romance scam, business email compromise and other illicit schemes online.