Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MUSTAPHA RAJI was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman to three years in prison for his participation in a $1.7 million business email compromise and money laundering scheme that targeted a Manhattan hedge fund. RAJI was previously convicted after a one-week jury trial of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, receipt of stolen property, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Today’s sentencing of Mustapha Raji should send a clear message that email scams targeting businesses in this District will not be tolerated. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to zealously prosecute online scammers abroad, and the U.S.-based money launderers they work with, to protect American businesses.”
As reflected in the Indictment, public filings, and the evidence presented at trial:
RAJI participated in an international fraud ring that conducted phishing and other email fraud campaigns.
In April 2017, a company RAJI controlled received over $100,000 in two transfers from another corporate entity, which had itself just received nearly $2 million in stolen money from a public university in Oregon. The university had been conned into sending the payment to an account controlled by one of RAJI’s co-conspirators instead of the bank account of the legitimate vendor it intended to pay.
In July 2018, RAJI was involved in the compromise of the business email account of a hedge fund founder in New York. That compromise resulted in the fraudulent diversion of a $1.7 million wire transfer from the hedge fund to a corporate bank account used to facilitate the scheme. RAJI was a registered officer of the company that received the stolen funds, he fabricated documents to cover up the fraudulent transfer of funds from the hedge fund, and he directed a co-conspirator to launder the stolen funds to other co-conspirators domestically and overseas. RAJI took a $50,000 cut for his participation in the scheme.
Similarly, in May 2018, a hospital system in Missouri fell victim to a business email compromise scheme. As part of that scheme, unauthorized emails were sent from the email account for the hospital’s chief financial officer that purported to direct payments to be issued for false invoices issued by RAJI’s company, causing over $250,000 to be sent directly by the victim to a bank account RAJI controlled.
In September 2018, RAJI learned that a co-conspirator with whom he had worked closely in the scheme had been arrested. Nonetheless, when a cooperating witness approached RAJI in 2019 about a new fraud — a supposed insider job to steal $2.3 million — RAJI agreed to participate and sent the cooperating witness wire instructions for an account to receive the stolen money.
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In addition to his prison term, RAJI, 53, of Hollywood, Florida, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $711,557.54 and forfeit the same amount.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Catherine Ghosh, Jilan Kamal, Dina McLeod, and Robert B. Sobelman are in charge of the prosecution.