- Associated Press - Friday, April 3, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - A Nigerian man has been brought back to Mississippi to face charges alleging he was part of an international cybercrime ring.

Adekunle Adefila pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges of money laundering, attempt and conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S.

The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1P4xEyc ) that Adefila will be back in court Monday for a detention hearing. Court records show prosecutors want him held with no bond.

Adefila, 40, was extradited this week from Canada.

Prosecutors said more than a dozen people were indicted after Homeland Security Investigations agents in Gulfport were notified in 2011 that a Harrison County woman reported she was the victim of a sweetheart scam.

The woman allegedly had been corresponding with a man who later asked her to receive a package in the mail and re-ship it to an address in Pretoria, South Africa.

HSI agents said the merchandise in the package had been bought with stolen identities and fraudulent credit card information.

The indictment alleges Adefila created a bogus email account in 2006 to conduct illegal activity and received fraudulently obtained cash advances.

In 2013, he allegedly called an online broker about 38 times and impersonated a victim. Nearly $35,000 of the victim’s money was transferred to a bogus bank account. The indictment said part of the money was loaded on prepaid debit cards for co-conspirators to withdraw money at ATMs, or used to buy money orders.

Adefila also is accused of receiving an email containing the personal identifying information of about 100 people in 2013 and using a person’s information to contact a broker and wire $30,000 to a bogus bank account.

The indictment alleges he was part of a West African crime enterprise that used online-dating sites and mass marketing contact information for romance or job scams to prey on hundreds of victims in the U.S.

Fifteen defendants were arrested in South Africa, Canada, California, Wisconsin and Indiana in May.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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