2 men accused of defrauding App State of $2M using fake company, documents say

BOONE, N.C. — At least two people are accused of defrauding and laundering nearly $2 million out of Appalachian State University for five months, according to an indictment.

A grand jury found that Oludayo Kolawole, John Adeagbo and Donald Ikenna Echeazu, both of the U.K., conspired with others by making up a fake business to steal money.

The accused did this from approximately Aug. 30, 2016, to Jan. 12, 2017, according to the documents.

When registering for an account on Aug. 30, 2016, Adeagbo was given information from the company about construction projects happening throughout the United States.

One of the projects was between Appalachian State University and Rodger Builders, according to the indictment.

The information included university employees’ names, phone numbers and email addresses that were involved with the university’s contract.

Adeagbo shared the information with his co-conspirators, according to court documents.

Ho Shin Lee, another conspirator, applied on Nov. 18, 2016, to register Royce Hub Trading, Inc., a fake company, with the Secretary of State of California.

Royce Hub, Inc. was presented as a company in California that was in the general merchandise business.

Lee claimed he was the CEO, chief financial officer and secretary of the company.

On Nov. 23, 2016, the co-conspirators instructed Lee to open an account in the company’s name at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Los Angeles, California, authorities say.

When Lee set up the account, he claimed he was the president of Royce Hub Trading Inc., and put himself as the sole account holder.

Echeazu was in control of a domain registration account, which he used to make a fake email and domain account for the company.

Real emails from real employees of Rodgers Builders used the fake domain name.

On Dec. 2, 2016, the conspirators were able to get Appalachian State to change the legitimate Rodger’s Builders bank information to the JP Morgan account they created.

On Dec. 8, 2016, the university paid approximately $1.96 million to the JP Morgan account under Lee’s name.

Beginning on Dec. 14, 2016, Lee began to transfer the funds out of the account. He then opened another account for Royce Hub Trading Inc., at Union Bank in Los Angeles, California.

The grand jury states that all the actions of Adeagbo, Echeazu, and others involved were in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 1349.

The counts include:

  • Wire fraud conspiracy
  • Money Laundering conspiracy
  • Aggravated identity theft

“We appreciate the continued diligence by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecute this case and to recover the university’s funds — a majority of which were recovered in 2017. Following the incident, which occurred in late 2016, the university implemented more stringent policies to increase vigilance and guard against cyber crimes,” said Megan Hayes, App State chief communications officer.

(WATCH BELOW: FBI warns businesses in the Carolinas, 6 other Southern states of fraud scheme)