Georgia Man Sentenced for Conspiring to Launder $2.5 Million in Romance Scam Proceeds
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. – A Smyrna, Georgia man, Oluwadamilare Kolaogunbule, was sentenced today to 71 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit money laundering. On October 21, 2021, Kolaogunbule pleaded guilty to the charge. As part of sentencing, Kolaogunbule was further ordered to pay criminal restitution totaling $2,307,020 to the victims of his offense. A forfeiture money judgment was also entered against him.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, between 2014 and 2018, Kolaogunbule opened, maintained, and controlled approximately 20 different bank accounts at multiple financial institutions that were used to receive approximately $2.5 million in romance scam proceeds. Romance scammers exploit victims who are looking for companionship by creating fake profiles on online dating websites that include false personal details, such as the death of a spouse or military service. After creating the illusion of a romantic relationship to gain the victim’s trust, the scammer will typically solicit the victim for money to alleviate some fabricated crisis, such as a medical or business emergency.
More than 60 victims were directed to send money to Kolaogunbule’s accounts, many of which were titled in the names of purported export companies, including DSC Exports and Belmont Integrated Logistics. In fact, these companies were fronts for Kolaogunbule’s money laundering business.
“Romance scammers use dating apps and social media to prey upon lonely, vulnerable, and often elderly victims looking for love,” stated US Attorney Michael Easley. “These swindlers target the most vulnerable in our society, inflicting tragic financial and psychological tolls, and are facilitated by professional money launders like the defendant, who move illicit gains to co-conspirators offshore. Our office will identify and prosecute those who profit from these crimes.”
Easley provided several tips to ensure safety online: “We have an obligation to look after our seniors. People should check in on their elderly friends and family members. Ensure they know to never send money or financial information to people they meet online and don’t know in person. Scammers are sophisticated. Be sure our seniors know they should never be embarrassed to speak up to report suspicious behavior.”
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Field Office, investigated the case. The South African Police Service provided valuable assistance to the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case.
Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:21-CR-27-BO-2.
Updated March 17, 2022