Richard Ginika Izuora
Afeez Olajide Adebara, a Nigerian man based in Oklahoma has been jailed for his role in an online romance scam that defrauded victims across the United States out of at least $2.5m.
Adebara was handed a custodial sentence on Friday, September 10, 2021; after pleading guilty on November 3, 2020, to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Court documents reveal that the 36-year-old Adebara acted as the manager of a group of money launderers involved in the scam.
The fraudster with his team, between 2017 and November 2019, used fake passports; as well as other fraudulent identification paperwork to open multiple bank accounts under various aliases.
They knowingly concealed the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme and their sources by transferring the funds between and among those accounts, Infosecurity magazine reports.
“Thereafter, 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,” said the Department of Justice in a statement released on September 10.
Furthermore, Adebara was said to have worked closely with co-conspirators based overseas. These co-conspirators created fake dating profiles and social media accounts that were used to lure and defraud victims. Specifically, they posed as US residents working or traveling abroad; tricking victims into believing that they had found love online. After manipulating a victim into thinking that they were in a romantic relationship; the scammer would ask for increasingly large sums of money.
Many of the victims, mainly the elderly, wired money to the scammer’s bank account; usually in the belief that they were helping their significant other to complete a business project or to return to the United States. Also, account details and routing numbers of the bank accounts into which the fraudulently obtained funds were wired were provided by Adebara to his co-conspirators.
On September 10, in the Northern District of Oklahoma, Adebara was sentenced to four years in prison. Previously, six individuals, some of whom are American citizens and others of whom are Nigerian citizens; received custodial sentences for their involvement in the same romance scam, the reports said.