Release Number 8441-21
CFTC Charges Nigerian and American Citizens Operating as PrimeFX with Forex and Bitcoin Fraud and Misappropriation
September 30, 2021
Washington, D.C. — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced that it filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against Uduakobong Udo Inyangudo a/k/a Alexander Uti Bassey of Lagos, Nigeria; Vanessa B. Okocha of Houston, Texas; Amen M. Okundaye of Houston, Texas Charles A. Ochi of Grant Prarie, Texas; Diego I. Okeh of Brooklyn, Maryland; Daniell N. Liggins of Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; Victor O. Edeh of Waltham, Massachusetts; and Tochukwu Edeh of Jacksonville, Florida. The complaint alleges that during the relevant period, from approximately June 2016 to February 2019, the defendants used Primefx.org to fraudulently solicit and subsequently misappropriate over $1.2 million from U.S. and international customers, as part of a coordinated scheme, for purported trading in foreign currency (forex) and Bitcoin.
The CFTC seeks restitution, disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, trading and registration bans, and injunctions against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations, as charged.
As alleged in the complaint, during the relevant period, Prime FX operated as a website, Primefx.org, that made false and misleading representations regarding trading forex and Bitcoin. During the relevant period, Uti was the administrator of the website and the individual responsible for the domain.
Also alleged in the complaint, Uti engaged in fraudulent solicitation of potential and existing Prime FX customers throughout the United States and other countries by making false and misleading claims and omissions about managed account trading in forex and Bitcoin. Uti managed the email account, [email protected], which directed customers to deposit their funds into the personal bank accounts of the other defendants, along with other Prime FX agents – who ultimately misappropriated the Prime FX customers’ funds. The defendants engaged in conduct that facilitated the misappropriation of virtually all of the Prime FX customers’ funds.
The CFTC acknowledges and appreciates the cooperation and assistance of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, the Cypress Securities and Exchange Commission, and the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this action are Glenn Chernigoff, Kara Mucha, James H. Holl, III, Erica Bodin, and Rick Glaser.
The CFTC’s regulatory and enforcement authority over certain forex transactions and the offering thereof: https://www.cftc.gov/LearnAndProtect/AdvisoriesAndArticles/ForeignCurrencyTrading/index.htm
CFTC Foreign Currency (Forex) Fraud Advisory
The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Foreign Currency (Forex) Trading Fraud Advisory, to help customers identify this sort of scam.
The CFTC also strongly urges the public to verify a company’s registration with the CFTC before committing funds. If unregistered, a customer should be wary of providing funds to that entity. A company’s registration status can be found using NFA BASIC.
Customers and other individuals can report suspicious activities or information, such as possible violations of commodity trading laws, to the Division of Enforcement via a toll-free hotline 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382), file a tip or complaint online, or contact the Whistleblower Office. Whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected paid from the Customer Protection Fund financed through monetary sanctions paid to the CFTC by violators of the CEA.
The CFTC’s charge with respect to digital assets was brought pursuant to the CFTC’s enforcement authority which authorizes the CFTC to take certain enforcement actions to protect the public interest relating to any commodity in interstate commerce, as well as futures contracts and other derivatives, including swaps, which are subject to the CFTC’s regulatory and oversight authority. CFTC does not regulate spot or cash transactions involving digital assets (or any other cash commodity), or those who buy, sell, or engage in activities relating to digital assets (or any other cash commodity).