The Northern District of Oklahoma sentenced a man, Afeez Adebara, to four years in prison 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 resulted in losses of more than $2.5 million (N1 billion).
According to a press release from the United States Court of Justice, Afeez Adebara pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on November 3, 2020.
According to court documents and testimony from 2017 to 2019, Adebara and his co-conspirators knowingly concealed the proceeds of a romance scam operation by moving money between and among multiple bank accounts opened with fictitious identities in order to conceal the source of the funds and the identities of the co-conspirators.
Adebara went on to conceal the source of the funds, took a commission, and directed the remainder of the funds back to the Nigerian online romance scammers, including in the form of vehicles and vehicle parts.
Fraudulent online dating websites and social media platforms were used by Adebara in coordination with overseas co-conspirators, according to an FBI investigation.
He was accused of opening multiple accounts under false identities, then passing on the account and routing numbers to his overseas accomplices.
In order to deceive the victims, the overseas co-conspirators pretended to be United States citizens working or traveling abroad.
They claimed that they needed the money to complete business projects or to return to the United States as the online relationships progressed.
Foreign conspirators told the victims to send money to certain bank accounts, with the promise that it would be used as needed.
Accordingly, John Ogundele was sentenced to 33 months in prison; Paul Usoro, a Nigerian who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States and lives in Norman, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, six of which were to be served at home
In addition to Joshua Ditep, Tobiloba Kehinde was sentenced to eight months in prison, four of which were to be served at home.
Both Chibuzo Obiefuna and Jamiu Adedeji received time-served sentences.
Former U.S. attorney Clinton Johnson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Melissa Godbold made an announcement on behalf of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.