Maryland man pleads guilty to COVID-19 vaccine scheme

October 30, 2021 GMT

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme to sell COVID-19 vaccines, according to a federal prosecutor.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland said in a news release that Odunayo “Baba” Oluwalade, 25, of Windsor Mill, pleaded guilty on Friday to wire fraud conspiracy.

According to his guilty plea, Oluwalade conspired with others to obtain access to a bank account for use in the fraud scheme, for which he would be paid. The scheme involved creation of a fake domain that appeared similar to an actual biotechnology company that focuses on several areas, including a vaccine for COVID-19.

In November 2020, a co-conspirator texted Oluwalade that he had found someone who would allow them to use his credit union account for the scheme. The following January, an undercover agent contacted a number listed on the fake site, the news release said, and received emails providing information on payment, delivery, and purchase for vaccines. The agent was instructed to send money to the credit union account.

The government seized the fake site and executed a series of search warrants, officials said. Investigators used the co-conspirator’s phone to send Oluwalade a message asking where to send money.

Oluwalade faces up to 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.