A U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, USA has sentenced a Nigerian fashion designer, Alade Vincent, popularly known as “Alvince,” to four years and two months imprisonment for wire fraud estimated at $1.1 million.
The judge ordered the 35 year old Vincent to pay $243,269.00 in restitution, with two years of supervised release, one year each for both charges, upon completing his jail term.
The fashion designer has clothed several top Nigerian celebrities including, Tu Face, D’banj, and Don Jazzy, among others.
He won several fashion awards and was nominated for Future Awards in 2009.
His fashion business was among the most visible in Lagos fashion district at Adeniran Ogunsanya in Surulere.
Up until 2014-2015, Vincent was still a major force in Lagos fashion circles and it remained unclear when he moved to the U.S. or joined cybercrime syndicates.
According to court documents, Vincent used the accurate identity information of individuals to open numerous bank accounts to obtain funds from companies and individuals, using fraudulent emails and phone calls in early 2019.
The fashion designer, who ranked among the top bespoke designers in Lagos, had conspired with other Nigerians, Hameed Adesokan, Adewumi Abioye, Lukman Salam, Akolade Ojo, and Damilola Lawal, to deceive his victims into sending funds to numerous bank accounts controlled by Vincent.
Vincent had obtained Delaware and North Carolina driver’s licences, providing personal information of two victims who resided in Nebraska and Missouri, respectively.
Documents obtained from U.S. financial institutions also indicated that surveillance images of transactions matched that of Vincent.
Federal authorities arrested him on November 3, 2021.
On the same day, Vincent made his first appearance before the federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was charged before Magistrate Judge Thomas DiGirolamo for aggravated identity theft and conspiring with others to commit wire fraud.
“Vincent then used the fake identification documents to open financial institution accounts and engaged in financial transactions involving those accounts, including attempting to deposit a fraudulent check, receiving proceeds from fraud, and disbursing proceeds of fraud through a variety of means to include, but not limited to, wire transfers, money order purchases, ATM and cash withdrawals, and casino activity,” said the special agent in charge, Darren R. Rusakiewicz.
On July 5, 2022, District Judge Stephanie Gallagher convicted Mr Vincent of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft after the Department of Homeland Security Investigations indicted him. He promptly pleaded guilty to the charges.
“The defendant is hereby committed to the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a term of 26 months as to Count 1 and 24 months as to Count 6 to run consecutively to the term imposed as to Count 1 for a total term of 50 months,” Ms Gallagher ruled.
The document said the fashion designer, on January 22, 2019, registered a company named SG Enterprise LLC in Maryland, using the details of his first victim contained in the Delaware driver’s licence.
He received $10,000 from the said company’s account on February 19; $21,095 on March 19 from a South African bank, which the investigator said: “was removed through the point-of-sale transactions, an ATM withdrawal, and a wire transfer.”
On March 21, 2019, SG Enterprise LLC’s account in Well Fargo received $385,500.12 interstate wire, but soon, the bank received a letter from Fifth Third Bank stating that its (the latter) customer, a construction company, had been a victim of identity fraud.
Wells Fargo subsequently froze S.G. Enterprise LLC’s account and soon returned the funds to Fifth Third Bank.
According to the document, the company received $26,943.81 in its BB&T account on March 26, 2019.
The individual from who the money was transferred told the federal investigator that Vincent, through his company, fraudulently induced him into paying the money after receiving an email.
Vincent, through another S.G. Enterprise LLC account he opened in Chase Bank, received a $90,300 incoming wire from a firm.
He withdrew some funds and sent some to the Dubai Islamic Bank. On June 17, 2019.
The fashion designer had also attempted to deposit a SunTrust check of $42,899 on June 17, which was returned as “altered/fictitious.”
Federal investigators, in October 2021, interviewed Mr Vincent’s first victim, whose identity was used in the Delaware driver’s licence and company, but the victim affirmed that he did not open the enterprise with which the fashion designer used to defraud individuals.
Vincent subsequently registered another company, Timberg Enterprise LLC, also in Maryland, using the information of his second victim, whose personal information was used for the North Carolina driver’s licence.
He opened a Bank of America business account, receiving $390,386.72 incoming wire from a firm on June 28.
From his Timberg Enterprise business account, the fashion designer, via telephone calls, deceived another company into paying $40,000 into the accounts opened in his victim’s name.
According to the document, Mr Vincent also received $59,467.55 incoming wire in his BB&T account on June 18, 2019, from Wells Fargo.
Also, when interviewed by the investigator at his Missouri residence on October 8, 2021, the other victim affirmed that he did not open the business or sign signature cards.