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Man sentenced to nearly 4 years in rent fraud scheme, must pay $2.2M

A 31-year-old Las Vegas man convicted of defrauding more than 3,500 victims in several states out of more than $3.3 million will spend 44 months in prison.

Norbert Ozemena Ikwuegbundo was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court. He was also ordered to pay $2,223,124.69 restitution to victims, and serve three years of supervised release.

The 31-year-old Nigerian citizen also known as David Okon Larry and Ezekiel Moses Azizi, pleaded guilty in May 2023 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, possession of document-making implements and authentication features, and concealment money laundering.

According to court documents and admissions, from about May 2018 until about September 2019, Ikwuegbundo, co-defendant Omoniyi Johnathan Omotere, and others conspired to fraudulently induce victims into sending them money through wire transfers, according to a court news release.

As part of the fraud, the conspirators manufactured counterfeit drivers’ licenses and other identification cards with fictitious names but bearing their own photographs. The conspirators assumed the identities of homeowners who were advertising on websites to rent their properties and posted imposter rental advertisements online at reduced rent prices, using the names and personal identifiers of the real homeowners — but changing the contact information to email addresses and phone numbers controlled by the conspirators.

When contacted by potential renters, the conspirators requested that potential renters wire money for first and last month’s rent. Throughout the duration of the conspiracy, the conspirators used various lulling techniques, such as sending false rental agreements for victims to sign, so that they would have more time to pick up the wired money.

After collecting the money, the defendants laundered proceeds by purchasing salvaged titled vehicles in the United States and then shipped to and sold the vehicles in Nigeria. Profits from the sales were deposited into bank accounts controlled by Ikwuegbundo and Omotere.

United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson of the District of Nevada, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Miller of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Las Vegas, and Special Agent in Charge Gregory Anderson of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

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