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Nigerian Bags 4-year Jail Term For $2.5m Romance Scam

Jail

September 12, (THEWILL) – A United States court in the Northern District of Oklahoma has sentenced a Nigerian, Afeez Adebara, to four years in prison.

Adebara was convicted on Friday for managing a group of money launderers in an online romance scam that defrauded multiple victims, including elderly individuals across the U.S., to the tune of $2.5 million.

The U.S. Department of Justice, in a statement signed by the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Kenneth A. Polite Jr; Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Clinton J. Johnson and Special Agent, FBI-Oklahoma City Field Office, Melissa Godbold, said Adebara pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on November 3, 2020.

Court documents and testimony revealed that between 2017 and 2019, the 36-year-old 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 under various aliases, using fake passports and other fraudulent identification documents to obscure the source of the funds and the identities of his accomplices.

He was said to have taken further steps to conceal the source of the funds, taken a commission for himself, and sent the remainder of the funds back to the online romance scammers in Nigeria, in the form of vehicles and vehicle parts.

“Adebara coordinated with overseas co-conspirators who had assumed false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms to defraud victims.

“Adebara 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 U.S. residents working or traveling 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 an assurance that the money would purportedly be allocated as needed”, the statement said.

“This case is part of an ongoing national effort by the Department of Justice to address online fraud schemes, including those based out of Nigeria, that target U.S. citizens and residents,” the statement added.