Windsor Mill Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge Over Fraud Program to Sell COVID-19 Vaccines | USAO-MD
Baltimore, Md. – Odunayo “Baba” Oluwalade, 25, of Windsor Mill, Md., Pleaded guilty today to a federal wire fraud conspiracy in a scheme to sell COVID-19 vaccines.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack of the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), regional office of the Office of Criminal Investigations in Washington; Post Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame of the US Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to his guilty plea, Oluwalade conspired with others to gain access to a bank account to be used as part of the fraud scheme. Oluwalade admitted that he knew the bank account would be used for a fraud scheme, but was unaware of the details of the scheme. The program provided for Oluwalade to be compensated for his role in securing bank accounts to be used under the program.
As detailed in Oluwalade’s guilty pleas, the scheme involved the creation of a fake domain, named “Modernatx.shop” (the “fake domain”), which appeared visually similar to the actual company home page. 1, including in the company 1 brand logos, colors and markings. Company 1 is a biotechnology company focused on drug discovery, drug development, and vaccine technologies, including a vaccine against COVID-19. According to the plea agreement, unlike Company1’s website, the bogus domain had the text: “YOU MAY BE ABLE TO PURCHASE A COVID-19 VACCINE IN ADVANCE”, with a link to “Contact Us”.
Oluwalade admitted that on November 13, 2020, he received a message from an individual asking him to obtain bank accounts to be used as part of the fraud scheme. On November 16, 2020, a co-conspirator texted Oluwalade telling him that he had located someone who would allow him to use his Navy Federal Credit Union account for the fraud scheme. The co-conspirator provided Oluwalade with the banking information, which he sent to a second co-conspirator.
On January 11, 2021, a special agent of HSI, undercover (“UC”), contacted a number listed on the fake domain, which investigators determined was linked to an account on a messaging app. encrypted which also allows voiceover. Internet calls and video chats. The number responded about two hours later asking for an email address to contact the UC, which the UC provided. About four minutes later, the CPU received an email from [email protected], an email address that appears on the bogus domain, claiming to host the CPU in company 1 and providing a brief description of the company 1 and storage requirements. company 1 vaccine.
After several additional emails, UC received information regarding payment, delivery, and purchase of suspected vaccines from Company 1 from a Google email address. The UC received an alleged invoice for 200 doses of vaccine from Company 1 at $ 30.00 per dose, for a total of $ 6,000, with terms of payment of 50% in advance and 50% in the delivery. The UC was reportedly ordered to send the payment to the Navy Federal Credit Union account mentioned above. The CU transferred part of the funds to the account as indicated.
According to its plea agreement and court documents, on January 15, 2021, the government seized the bogus estate and executed a series of search warrants, including at the home of the co-conspirator with the Navy Federal Credit Union account. Investigators used this co-conspirator’s phone to send a message to Oluwalade: “Where do you want me to send the bread?” (Referring to the money investigators had sent to Williams’ bank account for the purchase of suspected vaccines as noted). Oluwalade replied, “Yes, send me items via zelle and others via cash app.” Zelle and Cash App are online payment platforms. Oluwalade provided his Cash App username and investigators made a cash transfer of the funds to Oluwalade’s Cash App account at his request.
Odunayo “Baba” Oluwalade faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher has not set a sentencing date.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI, the FDA Criminal Investigations Office, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr Barron thanked Deputy US Prosecutors Aaron SJ Zelinsky and Sean Delaney, who are pursuing the case.
For more information on the Maryland US Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md.
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