After authorities claimed that he was part of a conspiracy to sell COVID-19 vaccinations, a Maryland man has pleaded guilty in federal wire fraud.
Odunayo Oluwalade, a 25-year-old man from Windsor Mill, Maryland, faces up to 20 years in federal prison after entering the guilty plea on Friday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. He and two other men were arrested in February for involvement in the fraud, which consisted of appearing as Moderna and selling COVID-19 vaccines.
It involved creating the site “Modernatx.shop” by a group of people, similar in concept to Modernatx.com. It also featured the incorporation of company logos, colors, and markings.
Moderna’s website does not list how to obtain the vaccine. However, the fake site included links that stated, “You might be able buy a COVID-19 vaccination ahead of time,” and a link to contact us. According to the plea agreement.
An undercover Homeland Security agent reached out to the number posted on the fake website and stopped this scheme. Within hours of first connecting with the number, the agent received an invoice from the email “[email protected]” for 200 doses of the vaccine, which said cost $30 each.
Agent was instructed to make payment to the bank account of one co-conspirator. Investigators took the site and the bank account days later. Using a the co-conspirators phone, investigators sent Oluwalade a text saying, “Yo where u want me send the bread?” Oluwalade replied yes and asked that the bread be sent by Zelle and Cash App. Oluwalade then gave his Zelle and Cash App account information to investigators, according to his plea.
Oluwalade acknowledged that he was aware of the possibility of a bank account being used to fund the scheme but did not know exactly how it would work. According to Oluwalade, he was compensated for having bank accounts in the scheme. Oluwalade was not sentenced yet.
The public is searching for vaccines to protect their family from COVID-19. Fraudsters will wait to exploit their desperate situation. We want to remind the public to exercise extreme caution online, especially when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and protective equipment,” James R. Mancuso, special agent in charge of the Baltimore division of Homeland Security, said when the arrest were made in February.
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