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Prolific money launderer caught after auction house fraud attempt

A prolific money launderer who processed more than £6m has been convicted after a National Crime Agency investigation.

Kazeem Akinwale, 43, was caught after Christie’s auction house reported an attempted diversion fraud.

In March 2016 they informed the NCA that hackers had spoofed an employee’s email address, trying to divert the payment for a customer invoice into a new bank account.

Christie’s realised what had happened, did not pay the money and reported the hack which initiated the investigation into Akinwale.

NCA officers established that access to the intended beneficiary account was being made from the internet address at Akinwale’s home address in Mangold Way, Erith, east London.

In April 2016 he was arrested at home and officers recovered a Toshiba laptop, a gold iPhone and a white Samsung phone which all belonged to him.

The Old Bailey heard that downloads of the devices contained a “money launderer’s treasure trove”.

There was also evidence on these devices of Akinwale’s alias, Ola Gapiano – a name which the trial heard he had been using since at least 2008.

The jury also heard this alias was a prolific go-to money launderer for fraudsters all around the world.

The devices contained numerous references to laundering fraudulent cash, and references to bank accounts belonging to worldwide victims and also those being used to receive and transfer the money.

Akinwale was yesterday convicted of: possession of articles for use in fraud (computer and phones), possessing criminal property (beneficiary bank accounts that processed £6,087,596.37); transferring criminal property (using secondary bank accounts he also held), and acquiring criminal property (his commission of £73,270.86).

Sentencing is due to take place at a later date.

Jamie Horncastle, NCA lead officer, yesterday said:

“Akinwale denied the offences but our investigators built a detailed picture of the very significant amounts of money passing through accounts he controlled.

“Akinwale was a key player for organised criminals the world over.

“Every serious and organised crime group relies on cash flow, so taking Akinwale out of action will disrupt very many criminal networks.”


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