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Press Release

Canton Man Pleads Guilty to Online Fraud Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant received approximately $1 million in illicit proceeds through more than a dozen fraudulent bank accounts he opened using fake passports

BOSTON – A Canton man pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2023 in federal court in Boston to wire fraud and bank fraud conspiracy involving romance scams targeting individuals in the United States.

Mark Arome Okuo, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for March 29, 2023. Okuo was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in March 2021 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2021. He has been detained since his arrest.

Okuo participated in a conspiracy involving romance scams and other online frauds designed to deceive victims into sending money to accounts he controlled. Criminals perpetrating romance scams create fictitious profiles on online dating or social media websites, gain the trust of potential victims and then direct those victims to transfer money under false pretenses. To further the conspiracy, Okuo used fake passports in the names of aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to receive the proceeds of the romance scams. Okuo then executed large cash withdrawals from those accounts, generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection. As part of the scheme, Okuo used at least four different aliases to open more than a dozen fraudulent bank accounts and receive approximately $1 million in fraud proceeds.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Matthew B. Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England, made the announcement today.  Special assistance was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian J. Stearns of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.  

Updated January 30, 2023

Financial Fraud