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He conned his way to the cover of Forbes. Now, its 10 years in the cooler!

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In 2016, Forbes Africa named him one of the continent’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs under 30.

He was a dollar billionaire in-the-making, having raised himself by his bootstraps from a dusty, poverty-swept village, to the apex of entrepreneurship.

His business conglomerate, named after a character in one of Nelson Mandela’s favourite poems, comprised of nine companies. He had 28 permanent and 100 part-time employees.

Or had he?

On Tuesday this week, a U.S court ruled that Nigerian Obinwanne Okeke, 33, was not a captain of commerce and industry -as he pretended to be-, but a captain of online scoundrels and scallywags.  

Ksh1.2 billion Fraud

He was convicted for an $11million (Ksh1.2bn) computer-based fraud scheme and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Invictus Group, the company he posed as his source of vast wealth in the construction, agriculture, oil and gas, telecoms and real estate industries, was a mere front for his fraudulent activities.

“Through subterfuge and impersonation, Obinwanne Okeke, engaged in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme that caused a staggering $11 million in losses to his victims,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Today’s sentence further demonstrates EDVA’s and FBI’s worldwide reach in vigorously pursuing justice on behalf of American victims and others and holding international cybercriminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes.”

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Conned Caterpillar Seller

The case that cost Okeke, nicknamed “Invictus Obi” his freedom involved a British company called Unatrac. Unatrac is the sales office for Caterpillar brand of machinery.

“In April 2018, a Unatrac executive fell prey to a phishing email that allowed conspirators to capture login credentials. The conspirators sent fraudulent wire transfer requests and attached fake invoices,” said a court statement. “Okeke participated in the effort to victimize Unatrac through fraudulent wire transfers totaling nearly $11 million, which was transferred overseas.”

Before his arrest in August 2019, the Nigerian fraudster was a regular contributor to Forbes Africa magazine where he gave “insights” on entrepreneurship and investment in Africa.

Awards…If Only They Knew!

In May 2017, The African Brand Congress awarded the crook’s company “Most Innovative Investment Company of the Year 2017 Award.” The Nigerian was also nominated for Africa’s most prestigious award for businessmen, The AABLA Awards, in the category of Young African Business Leader (West Africa).

Cooling his heels in U.S Federal Prison till year 2031, Okeke will have pretty much to think about: The Forbes Africa articles, the Mercs and Ferraris he splashed the loot on, his harem, and the gulf in character between Invictus (in William Ernest Henley’s poem) and Invictus Group of Companies Ltd.- the international con ring that posed as a Fortune 500 company.

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