US blocks key player in Nigerian romance scam

An Oklahoma man has been sent to jail for his role in an online romance scam that defrauded victims across the United States of at least $ 2.5 million.

Norman resident Afeez Olajide Adebara was sentenced to jail on Friday after pleading guilty on November 3, 2020, to conspiring to commit money laundering.

According to court documents, Adebara, 36, acted as the director of a group of money launderers involved in the scam.

Between 2017 and November 2019, Adebara and his co-conspirators used fake passports and other fraudulent identity documents to open multiple bank accounts under various aliases.

Adebara and his co-conspirators then knowingly concealed the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme and their sources by transferring the funds between and among these accounts.

“Subsequently, Adebara took further steps to cover up the source of the funds, took a commission for himself, and redirected the rest of the funds to online romance scammers in Nigeria, including in the form of vehicles and vehicle parts, ”the Justice Department said in a Sept. 10 statement.

As part of the scam, Adebara worked closely with overseas-based co-conspirators who created fake dating profiles and social media accounts used to lure and defraud victims.

The co-conspirators posed as US residents working or traveling abroad and tricked victims into believing they had found love online. After manipulating a victim into believing that she was in a romantic relationship, a con artist would demand increasingly large sums of money.

The victims – many of whom were elderly – would transfer the money to the scammer’s bank account, believing they were helping their loved one complete a business venture or return to the United States.

Account details and routing numbers of bank accounts to which the fraudulently obtained funds were transferred 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 people, some of whom were US citizens and others Nigerian citizens, had been sentenced to jail terms for their involvement in the same romance scam.

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