Boston Man Sentenced for Defrauding Victims of More Than $1 Million Using Various Online Scams
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
BOSTON – A Boston man was sentenced today in connection with his role in expansive online fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States, including romance and advance fee schemes. In total, approximately 30 victims lost more than $1.3 million as a result of the schemes.
Kelechi Collins Umeh, 40, of Boston and formerly of Quincy, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge William G. Young to 40 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Umeh was also ordered to pay restitution of $878,652. In January 2023, Umeh pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy.
Umeh participated in a series of online scams – including romance and advance fee schemes – designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts controlled by him and his co-conspirators. Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. Advance fee scams occur when a criminal asks a victim to pay a fee up front – usually described as a fee, tax, or commission – in order to obtain a bigger payout later, but that payout never occurs.
Umeh used fake passports in the names of numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the online scams. Umeh and co-conspirators then rapidly executed large cash withdrawals from those accounts, often within days of the deposit and generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen A. Kearney of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.
Updated October 3, 2023