For allegedly defrauding some hospitals in the United States (U.S.) of a sum to the tune of $30 million by offering non-existent COVID-19 ventilators for sale between September 2018 and June 2020, a 29-year-old Nigerian, Chidozie Collins Obasi, has been declared wanted.

Obasi was declared wanted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) through a statement issued on Friday.

According to the DoJ: “The scheme alleged in the Indictment began in September 2018, with a spam email campaign that offered phony ‘work from home’ jobs.

“When a person responded to the phony job offer, Obasi or a co-conspirator posed as a representative of a legitimate company, often a supposed medical equipment supplier based outside the United States, and offered the person a job as the company’s U.S. representative with responsibilities including collecting on outstanding invoices.

“An accomplice in Canada then sent the new ’employee’ counterfeit checks purportedly from customers of the company, and the new ’employee’ deposited the checks, took a commission, and wired the rest of the money to a foreign bank account ostensibly owned by the fake company. Obasi and his co-conspirators obtained more than $1 million in this manner.

“In 2020, Obasi went further to pose as a ventilator salesman for an Indonesian medical supply company.

“In approximately March 2020, soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and ventilators were in high demand, Obasi posed as a representative of an Indonesian-based medical supply company offering ventilators for sale and claimed to have a large stockpile of ventilators manufactured by a German company.

“Obasi allegedly convinced a medical equipment broker in the U.S. to broker sales of these non-existent ventilators, and ultimately deceived the State of New York into wiring more than $30 million for the purchase of ventilators that did not exist.

“He continued to target other potential customers with this same scam, including hospitals.

“Later, in approximately June 2020, Obasi and his accomplices took advantage of the EID Loan programme by using stolen identities of U.S. citizens to apply for and obtain more than $135,000 in EID Loan proceeds.”

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