Canton Man Sentenced for Online Fraud Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant received more than $1 million in illicit proceeds through more than a dozen fraudulent bank accounts he opened using fake passports, and obstructed justice after his arrest
BOSTON – A Canton man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for his involvement in romance scams and other online fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States.
Mark Arome Okuo, 43, was sentenced by District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin to 55 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Okuo was also ordered to pay restitution of nearly $ 1.1 million. On Jan. 27, 2023, Okuo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Okuo was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in March 2021 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2021.
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 four aliases to open more than a dozen bank accounts in and around Boston to receive the proceeds of the romance scams.
Okuo received approximately $1.1 million of victims’ money in the bank accounts he controlled. He then executed large cash withdrawals from these accounts, generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection. In text messages, Okuo called his victims “mugu,” which is a Nigerian slang word for “fools.”
As the court found at sentencing, Okuo obstructed justice after his arrest in several different ways, including by instructing a potential cooperating witness to lie to law enforcement agents.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Michael J. Krol, Acting 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, the United States Marshals Service, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian J. Stearns of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.
Updated April 14, 2023