Their roles in a multimillion-dollar proposal targeting payments to IT and consulting services vendors from four state governments, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Among the companies targeted in the scam were Deloitte Consulting, Unisys, Accenture and EDS, now a part of Hewlett-Packard. The defendants were able to divert state payments totaling US$3.4 million from West Virginia, Kansas, Ohio and Massachusetts to bank accounts controlled by the co-conspirators, the DOJ said in a press release.
The scheme, which began in late 2008, embattled vendors that received large payments from states on a regular basis, the DOJ said. Co-conspirators located in the U.S. filed documents to create dummy entities with names similar to legitimate vendors, as well as fake bank accounts in the names of the targeted vendors. With information acquired from the Internet and other sources, the co-conspirators completed direct deposit authorization forums for the embattled vendors.
The scammers then mailed electronic payment authorization forums to the states, allowing the defendants to hijack legitimate vendor payments, the DOJ said. The group wired more than $770,000 to bank accounts in Kenya.
Sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia were Robert Otiso, 36, of Elk River, Minnesota, to 72 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire scam; Paramena Shikanda, 35, of Minneapolis, to 46 months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering; and Collins Masese, 21, of St. Paul, Minnesota, to nine months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendants are all natives of Kenya.