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Heard But Not Seen: Nigerian National Nabbed In $250,000 Audiobooks Scheme, NJ Feds Say

A Nigerian national living in Bangladesh contracted with more than 600 voice actors to produce audiobooks of written works that he didn't hold the rights to, federal authorities in New Jersey charged.

FBI Newark
FBI Newark Photo Credit: GoogleMaps Street View

Anyanwu Benjamin Chizitere, 30, of Enugu, Nigeria, was part of a group that collected more than $250,000 by infringing on the copyright of a Newark-based company and its authors, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip R. Sellinger said.

Chizitere worked for a financial services business that provided online money transfer and digital payment services to the company, the U.S. attorney said.

He posed as the rights holder for more than 800 books, contracted with hundreds of freelance narrators and instructed conspirators how to cash in on the scheme, Sellinger said.

Chizitere created hundreds of accounts through a service provided by the victimized company that he used to publish the infringing audiobooks on the company’s platforms, including its website and mobile application, the U.S. attorney said.

He also "directed others to leave positive reviews of the infringing content to increase its visability," Sellinger said.

The voice actors, meanwhile, were never compensated and suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in aggregate losses, he said.

An indictment returned by a grand jury in Newark charges Chizitere with six counts of wire fraud, three counts of copyright fraud and a single count of conspiracy.

Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI in Newark with the investigation leading to the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Torntore, who's chief of his Cybercrime Unit, is handling the case for the government.

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