Federal prosecutors indicted three men in Baltimore County for allegedly running a scam website to sell coronavirus vaccines for $30 a dose.
Prosecutors indicted Olakitan Oluwalade, 22, and his cousin, Odunayo Baba Oluwalade, 25, both of Windsor Mill. They also indicted Kelly Lamont Williams, 22, of Owings Mills. The three men are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each could face 20 years in federal prison.
The charges were announced in a news release Thursday from the office of the U.S. Attorney for Maryland. The alleged fraudsters did not immediately appear listed in federal court records online. Their attorneys could not be reached.
According to the news release, the men created their phony website to resemble the site of Cambridge, Massachusetts, vaccine maker Moderna Inc. The real site is modernatax.com; the fake, modernatax.shop.
“The logo, markings, colors and texts on the Fake Domain were visually similar to that of Company 1′s actual home page,” prosecutors wrote.
Last month, a federal agent ordered 6,000 doses of vaccine through the website and received instructions to wire half the money to a Navy Federal Credit Union account in the name of Kelly Lamont Williams, prosecutors say. Within days, federal agents seized the fake website and searched Williams’ home.
Their search turned up communications between Williams and the Oluwalade cousins, they say. An agent pretended to be Williams and sent some of the money for the phantom vaccines to the cousins.
The men are scheduled for an initial appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
“My office and the entire law enforcement community are committed to bringing to justice fraudsters who are preying on citizens during this unprecedented public health crisis,” U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur said in the news release. “I urge citizens to remain vigilant and if you see something that doesn’t seem right, please report it. Don’t become a victim.”