The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed the arrest of a 28-year-old Ghanaian, Sigismond Segbefia, for faking as a representative of popular musician Pharrell Williams as a ploy to swindle a Korean company of an amount of $375,000.
Segbefia was also said to have impersonated a Pennsylvanian postal worker and siphoned more than $445,000 from women he met on dating sites.
He was arrested Tuesday at Kennedy Airport in New York but was released on bond and ordered to remain confined to his home until his appearance before a federal magistrate on May 14 in Pittsburgh.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Sigismond Segbefia, a native of Ghana and a legal resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, faces multiple charges, including wire fraud, bank fraud and identity theft.
It said Segbefia had falsely claimed he worked with a talent agency in Japan and that he could get popular musician Pharrell Williams to stage a concert for the Korean company.
The AP reports quoted the FBI to have said the 28-year-old Ghanaian used a company he incorporated in Maryland in October 2013 called Eastern Stars LLC to make his various claims seem legitimate.
It said the FBI said the Korean company wanted to book Williams for a concert in Seoul and wired $375,000 to Eastern Stars, somehow believing it to be a company working with a Japanese booking agency. The concert was the first project for the company planning to expand into entertainment to diversify its revenues.
The Japanese company was “provided with a contract and invoice in the name of Eastern Stars LLC,” which claimed to be Williams’ “legal representative,” the FBI reportedly said.
Segbefia further provided “fake documents, email addresses and the names of Williams’ real management team” before the steel company wired the money to Eastern Stars in August.
The next day, Segbefia withdrew more than $113,000 from an Eastern Stars bank account, but the bank froze the rest once Dosko got suspicious and tried to retrieve the $375,000 wire transfer, the complaint said.
Sungdae Cho, president of Dosko, confirmed that the company had been duped and expressed relief that the suspect was caught. He said the project was spearheaded by his son, David Cho.
David Cho told The Associated Press that he was introduced to a representative of the suspect’s company around September through a Japanese talent agency during a meeting in Tokyo.
A few weeks later, the Japanese talent agency, which had been hoping to set up a Williams concert in Japan after his performance in South Korea, called Cho and said the musician’s side needed a sum of “guarantee” money wired immediately to confirm his schedule in South Korea.
Cho said he wired the money, but around 3 or 4am Korea time, the Japanese agency called him and told him it had been duped.
The talent agency that represents Williams had no immediate comment on the case.
The FBI also said at least one woman lost $185,000 from December 2013 to August 2014 in the scam. Segbefia convinced her that he owned a medical equipment business and kept running into financial difficulties while trying to ship some of the devices to England, the FBI said.
A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morganview all posts by: Nana Kwesi Coomson
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