11 romantic crooks charged with money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy | USAO-NDTX
A federal grand jury has indicted 11 defendants in the Northern District of Texas for defrauding elderly victims in romantic schemes, Interim US Attorney Prerak Shah has announced.
The 11 defendants, all arrested during a large-scale operation Wednesday morning, are charged with various financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The majority of defendants indicted in this investigation have ties to a transnational organized crime syndicate from Nigeria, law enforcement revealed on Friday.
According to court documents, these defendants attacked elderly victims, many of whom were widowed or divorced. They assumed fake names and trolled dating sites like Match.com, ChistianMingle, JSwipe, and PlentyofFish, looking for targets.
Once they had made good graces with their victims, they would have concocted bloody stories about why they needed money – i.e. taxes to free an inheritance, travel essential abroad, crippling debts, etc. dollars at a time.
“Crimes like these are particularly despicable because they are based not only on victims’ lack of internet knowledge, but also on their isolation, loneliness and sometimes their grief. As the victims open their hearts, the perpetrators open their wallets, ”Acting US Prosecutor Prerak Shah said at a press conference announcing the charges. “The only mistake these victims make is being generous to the wrong people.”
“The crimes allegedly committed by these defendants affected close to their homes. Your neighbors, relatives, friends and family would be the targets of this organization. The fraudsters intimidated and berated their victims, really ruined their lives, and then disappeared, ”said FBI Dallas Special Agent Matthew J. DeSarno. “We are convinced that this survey will have a significant impact on this region and beyond. “
The indictments unveiled today in the North District of Texas complement a related unsealed indictment in the East District of Texas, which charges 23 defendants (including one also indicted in the North District of Texas) with various crimes financial.
Those charged in the North Texas District include:
- David Animashaun, 38 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy
- Oluwalobamise Michael Moses, 40 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy
- Irabor Fatarr Musa, 51 – arrested in Eastern District of Texas, charged by North District of Texas with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Ijeoma Okoro, 31 – arrested in DFW, wire fraud, fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Chukwemeka Orji, 36 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Emanuel Stanley Orji, 35 – arrested in DFW, charged with wire fraud conspiracy
- Frederick Orji, 37 – arrested in Dallas, charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Uwadiale Esezobor, 36 – arrested in Lubbock, charged with conspiracy of mail and electronic fraud
- Victor Idowu, 36 – arrested in Los Angeles, charged with conspiracy of mail and electronic fraud
- Afeez Abiola Alao, 37 – wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Ambrose Sunday Ohide, 47 – wire fraud conspiracy
The indictments are only allegations of criminal conduct and not evidence. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court.
If found guilty, the defendants face 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy of wire fraud and up to 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy of money laundering.
The Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and IRS – Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation with assistance from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, US Postal Inspection Service, Texas Department of Public Safety , Texas Rangers, US Marshals, US Citizenship & Immigration Services, and the US Department of State. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Walters, George Leal, and Erica Hilliard are pursuing cases for the Northern District of Texas, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Texas.
The FBI estimates that more than 20,000 people lost more than $ 600 million in romance scams in 2020 alone. For tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones, visit the Scams webpage in love with the Federal Trade Commission. To report suspected romance fraud, file a report through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.