A 31-year-old Nigerian national, Uchenna Christian Nlemchi, has been extradited from Hungary to the United States to face fraud charges.
Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, made this known in a statement on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
Nlemchi, who made his initial appearance in federal court in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 7 after being extradited from Hungary on an indictment charging him with conspiracy, 13 counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of money laundering, aggravated identify theft, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Nlemchi will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
A federal grand jury indicted Nlemchi on May 24, 2017. According to the indictment, Nlemchi and his co-conspirators registered with online dating websites to initiate romantic relationships with victims for the purpose of tricking those individuals into transferring money to them by way of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.
Simultaneously, the co-conspirators used phishing emails and malware to collect other victims’ email account names and passwords. They used this information to spy on email correspondence to identify upcoming financial transactions in order to divert and steal said funds and transfer them to bank accounts controlled by Nlemchi.
Nlemchi was arrested on these charges in June of 2017 and released on conditions pending trial. In Oct. of 2017, Nlemchi violated the conditions of his release, and an arrest warrant was issued.
At that time, Nlemchi fled the country and was believed to have returned to his native Nigeria.
The FBI pursued Nlemchi for five years before locating him in Hungary.
He was extradited to the United States and arrested on June 6, 2023.
The Albuquerque Division of the FBI investigated the case with assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department during the extradition process. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Peña is prosecuting the case.