A man, Afeez Adebara, has been sentenced to four years in prison by the Northern District of Oklahoma for managing a group of money launderers in an online Nigerian romance scam that defrauded multiple victims, including elderly individuals across the United States, and caused losses of over $2.5 million (N1 billion).
Adebara pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on November 3, 2020, a press release from the United States Court of Justice stated.
From court documents and testimonies between 2017 and 2019, Adebara and his co-conspirators knowingly concealed the proceeds of a romance scam operation by moving money between and among multiple bank accounts that were opened with fake identities to obscure the source of the funds and the identities of the co-conspirators.
Adebara took further steps to conceal the source of the funds, 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.
An investigation by the FBI revealed that Adebara coordinated with overseas co-conspirators who assumed false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms to defraud victims.
The culprit was said to have opened multiple accounts using fraudulent identities, then provided the account and routing numbers to the overseas co-conspirators.
The overseas co-conspirators told victims that they were residents of the United States working or travelling abroad.
As the online relationships continued, the overseas co-conspirators requested increasingly larger sums of money, with the claimed purpose that the funds were needed to complete business projects or for them to return to the United States.
The victims were directed by the overseas co-conspirators to send funds to certain bank accounts, with the assurance that the money would purportedly be allocated as needed.
Meanwhile, as part of the scam, John Ogundele was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment; a Nigerian, Paul Usoro who is also a lawful permanent resident of the United States residing in Norman, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, six of which were to be served in home confinement.
Another Nigerian, Joshua Ditep was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment alongside Tobiloba Kehinde, who bagged eight months’ imprisonment, four of which were to be served in home confinement.
Also, Chibuzo Obiefuna and Jamiu Adedeji were each sentenced to time served.
The Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Clinton J. Johnson for the Northern District of Oklahoma, and Special Agent in Charge Melissa Godbold of the FBI-Oklahoma City Field Office made the announcement.
Trial Attorneys Babasijibomi Moore of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Nassar of the Northern District of Oklahoma prosecuted the case.