A Texas man charged with a fraud scheme including an alleged victim in Vilas County, will go to trial in December.
A federal grand jury for the western district of Wisconsin on Aug. 28 indicted Emmanuel Odiah, 32, Dallas, Texas.
He’s also known as James Princeton and Ryan Greg Mornsen and charged in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering with individuals not identified in the indictment.
The charge against Odiah is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Vilas County Sheriff’s Office.
The indictment alleges Odiah opened bank accounts in New York and Georgia in the names of James Princeton and Ryan Greg Mornsen using fraudulent United Kingdom passports, and that he and co-conspirators in Nigeria and Ghana created fake profiles on internet dating sites, gained victims’ trust and then defrauded victims out of money in a variety of ways.
The indictment alleges that between May 3, 2017, and March 11, 2019, victims of this scheme in Wisconsin, Georgia, California, and Florida transferred money to the James Princeton and Ryan Greg Mornsen bank accounts controlled by Odiah.
The indictment alleges Odiah converted the fraud proceeds to cash or money orders through a series of ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions.
The indictment further alleges between Aug. 8 and Nov. 29, 2017, Odiah’s co-conspirators directed an individual to wire transfer $66,800 from a bank account in Woodruff to an account in New York controlled by Odiah in the name of James Princeton.
Odiah was originally charged in a sealed indictment returned by the grand jury on June 26, 2019.
He was arrested on July 10 in Texas and brought to Wisconsin. Odiah is being held in custody pending his trial, which is set for Dec. 9, 2019.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
‘A great example’
Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath said his office’s involvement in the investigation began on April 16, 2018, with a report of a fraud case involving a Vilas County resident in the Plum Lake area.
He said Detective Sgt. Cody Remick and Detective Sgt. Louise Horn handled the Vilas County portion of the case.
“Our detectives identified suspects and worked with Homeland Security agents to identify and track down parties involved and identify other victims in many states,” he stated in an email to The Lakeland Times. “Our detectives assisted Homeland Security execute a search warrant in Texas at the suspects home. He was arrested by Homeland Security and brought back to Madison where he was indicted.”
Fath said the investigation involved many banks and wire transfer locations and many subpoenas for financial records.
“This is a great example of local law enforcement partnering with federal agencies to bring suspects to justice,” he said.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]