An Oklahoma man has received a four-year prison sentence for running a group of money launderers who used online dating websites to defraud romance seekers of at least $2.5m (€2.12m). Among the victims were elderly people across the US.
Afeez Adebara admitted conspiracy to commit money laundering by moving money among multiple bank accounts opened under various aliases using fake passports and other fraudulent identification documents to obscure the source of the funds and identities of the co-conspirators, the department of justice said, citing court documents and testimony.
“Adebara … took a commission for himself, and directed the remainder of the funds back to the online romance scammers in Nigeria, including in the form of vehicles and vehicle parts,” it added.
Between 2017 and November 2019, he coordinated with overseas co-conspirators who had assumed false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms to defraud victims.
Adebara’s accomplices told their victims they were US residents working or travelling abroad. As the online relationships continued, the overseas co-conspirators requested increasingly larger sums of money, claiming the funds were needed to complete business projects or for them to return to the United States.
The victims were directed by the accomplices to send money to certain bank accounts, with assurance it would be allocated as needed, the department said.
Adebara’s actions included opening many accounts using fraudulent identities and providing the account and routing numbers to his overseas co-conspirators.
The justice department said the case is part of its ongoing effort to tackle online fraud, including those based in Nigeria, which target US citizens.
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