District of Columbia Auditor Faces Money Laundering Charges Related to an International Romance Scam
Defendant’s Alleged Scheme Involved More than 20 Victims, Many of Whom were Senior Citizens
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal criminal complaint has been filed charging Charles K. Egunjobi, age 48, of Waldorf, Maryland, with operating an unlicensed money service business relating to numerous online romance scams. Egunjobi had his initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gina L. Simms. He was released under the supervision of the United States pre-trial services.
The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Andrew Hartwell of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General Fraud Detection Office (DOJ-OIG); and Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Tira Hayward of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division (USPIS).
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Egunjobi is a financial auditor for the District of Columbia Government where he supports criminal investigations.
As alleged in the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, between September 2019 and April 2020, Egunjobi facilitated the money laundering operations of a romance scheme involving co-defendant Isidore Iwuagwu, age 35, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
The alleged romance scam co-conspirators contacted victims on social media platforms and dating sites, engaged in online relationships with the victims, then convinced victims to send large sums of money claiming the funds were needed for purported personal hardships. Many victims reported sending funds at the request of individuals claiming to be deployed members of the United States Armed Forces who asked for money for various personal hardships. The alleged scam involved more than 20 victims, many of whom are senior citizens.
For example, as detailed in the affidavit, one victim reports that she sent thousands of dollars to various individuals in the United States, including to Egunjobi, based on the instructions given to her by an individual she met on a dating website, who claimed to be a U.S. soldier deployed in Iraq.
As stated in the criminal complaint, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Egunjobi’s residence on August 10, 2022. As a result of the executed search warrant, law enforcement found what appeared to be a ledger, listing Egunjobi’s name, bank account information, dates of transactions, and notations. Some of the transaction dates recorded in the ledger matched the victim’s money order transfers.
The affidavit further alleges that law enforcement discovered messages on Egunjobi’s phone from individuals asking Egunjobi to transfer money or vehicles from the United States to Nigeria. Messages between Egunjobi and Iwuagwu allegedly indicate that Egunjobi assisted Iwuagwu to obtain Nigerian currency in exchange for Egunjobi receiving U.S. currency.
If convicted, Egunjobi faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for operating an unlicensed money service business. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
The Department of Justice runs the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311), has an interactive tool for elders who have been financially exploited to help determine to which agency they should report their incident, and also a senior scam alert website. Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at this website or by calling 1-800-225-5324. Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 877-FTC-HELP.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the DOJ-OIG and USPIS for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rajeev R. Raghavan and Jennifer L. Wine, who are prosecuting the federal case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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