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Nigerian Man Sentenced to 8 Years in US Prison for $8 Million BEC Scheme

Olalekan Jacob Ponle, a Nigerian national living in the UAE, was sentenced to 8 years in a US prison for his role in an $8 million BEC scheme.

A Nigerian national who had been living in the United Arab Emirates has been sentenced to more than eight years in a US prison for his role in an $8 million cybercrime scheme.

The man, 31-year-old Olalekan Jacob Ponle, aka Mark Kain and Mr Woodbery, was involved in a business email compromise (BEC) scheme for at least nine months in 2019, while he was living in the UAE.

He was arrested in the UAE in June 2020 and extradited to the United States the next month. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge and he has now been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison. 

In addition, he will have to pay over $8 million in restitution to victims, and forfeit luxury cars and watches that he obtained using proceeds of the cybercrime scheme. 

According to the US Justice Department, Ponle and his accomplices used phishing attacks to gain access to email accounts, which they then used to send fraudulent emails instructing victims to wire money to bank accounts they controlled.

Authorities say the cybercriminals attempted to obtain more than $51 million from targeted organizations, with actual losses exceeding $8 million.

Earlier this year, another Nigerian national, Solomon Ekunke Okpe, was sentenced to four years in a US prison for his role in a BEC operation.

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Related: Russian Man Who Laundered Money for Ryuk Ransomware Gang Sentenced

Related: Former Ubiquiti Employee Who Posed as Hacker Sentenced to Prison

Related: British Twitter Hacker Sentenced to Prison in US

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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