Frankline Bate Okpu, a Cameroon man illegally residing in Houston, has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for his role in stealing $726,000 from a South Korean company.
Okpu managed a team of eight. Seven have previously pleaded guilty. One man, a Cameron native and formerly residing in Dallas, is a fugitive at large.
The South Korean company involved was Daesang Corporation, a leading producer of consumer foods and food additives. Also involved was JY Globalfoods Company (JY), a Korean trading company that acts as a bridge for international companies looking for Korean products or introduces foreign products to the Korean market.
Okpu set up a fraudulent entity and fake website called Trinity Food Inc. This was a knock-off of a legitimate business called Trinity Foods Inc, based in San Diego.
Daesang wanted to import chicken and pork products into Korea to meet the demands from the Korean Moon festival holiday, held each year in the fall. In June 2017, JY found the fake Trinity Food online and started communicating with ‘Juliet Vaquez”, “Ray Morgan” and “Albert”, purportedly employees of Trinity Food. In fact, these were false names created by the conspirators.
JY brokered the purchase of foodstuffs for Daesang and the conspirators sent two proforma invoices to Daesang for $128,250 and $598,400. In September 2017, Daesang paid the amounts into a Bank of America account in Houston in the name of Trinity Food, prior to the supposed shipment.
Money transferred to other accounts
That money was then withdrawn by the conspirators and was deposited into other bank accounts in Houston (at Regions Bank and First Convenience Bank). Some of the money was cashed through cashier’s checks in Los Angeles, Miami and Maryland.
Daesang never received the product they paid for and sought help from the US authorities.
After serving time, Okpu will be subject to 36 months supervised release and will have to pay restitution of $350,939.21. Sentencing has not yet occurred for the others that pled guilty.