The United States Secret Service has uncovered a complex web of wire fraud, money laundering, and sextortion amounting to $2.5 million, allegedly orchestrated by Olamide Shanu, a 32-year-old Nigerian national.
Court documents obtained by the Peoples Gazette revealed the startling details behind Shanu’s operation, which mirrored the tactics employed by Nigerian internet fraudsters known as “Yahoo boys.”
Shanu reportedly scouted social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, assuming false identities, mainly posing as a female, to coax explicit images and videos from male teenagers and unsuspecting adults.
He leveraged these intimate relationships deceptively formed online to extort money from his victims, threatening to disseminate the explicit content to their social circles if payment demands were not met.
The indictment sheet against Shanu, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, showcased a disturbing modus operandi.
Using screenshots of victims’ private content, Shanu coerced payments under threat of public humiliation, sending messages like, “I’m spreading his nudes… share this picture till it goes viral,” and utilizing various social media handles to perpetuate the scheme.
The investigation into Shanu commenced after a complaint lodged by a mother whose 16-year-old son fell victim to Shanu’s sextortion tactics, prompting involvement from the Boise Police Department in Idaho.
The victim, identified as V1 to protect his identity as a minor, recounted accepting a friend request on Snapchat from an individual posing as “chloe.walterz.”
What started as a genuine connection swiftly escalated into a coercive demand for payments, leading the victim to comply under duress.
Shanu’s manipulation tactics extended beyond a single victim. Another underage victim, V2, fell prey to similar sextortion, becoming an unwitting conduit for fraudulent transactions by receiving funds from other victims into his Venmo account and transferring them to Shanu’s Binance crypto wallets.
Forensic investigations and warrants revealed compelling evidence linking Shanu to the fraud. The IP addresses used to access the Snapchat accounts were traced to Lagos, Nigeria, the exact location pinpointed in connection with Shanu’s digital footprint orchestrating the scam.
Furthermore, Shanu’s Nigerian passport and email were found linked to the Binance account, where millions of dollars were transacted over three years.
The 13 indictment charges Shanu faces in the U.S. span a range of crimes, including wire fraud, identity theft, extortion, interstate communication intending extortion, and money laundering. Efforts to reach Shanu regarding these allegations have been unsuccessful.