BOSTON – A Taunton man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for his role in online romance scams targeting individuals in the United States.
Francis Okafor, 30, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to two years in prison and two years of supervised release. Okafor was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,130,285. In August 2022, Okafor pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy.
From approximately May 2018 through August 2021, Okafor and others participated in a series of romance scams designed to defraud victims. 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. In furtherance of the scheme, Okafor used false foreign passports in the names of others but with his photo to open numerous bank accounts. In turn, co-conspirators directed victims to send money to these accounts. Okafor and his co-conspirators then withdrew the victims’ money from various bank branches and ATMs and wired the money overseas. In total, more than $1.1 million in fraud proceeds was deposited into fraudulent bank accounts Okafor controlled.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; and Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen A. Kearney of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.