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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Two Men Sentenced For Laundering Money From Victims Of Internet Dating Scam

                                                                               

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Contact ELIZABETH MORSE

www.justice.gov/usao/md                                                at (410) 209-4885

 

 

 

 

Greenbelt, Maryland – United States District Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Olusola Olla, age 50, of Browns Summit, North Carolina, to four years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit money laundering and structuring arising from a scheme to defraud elderly victims of millions of dollars.  Olla also was ordered to forfeit and pay restitution in the amount of $349,095.  Judge Grimm also sentenced Adeyinka Awolaja, age 35, of Chicago, Illinois, formerly of New Carrollton, Maryland, to three years of probation, including two years of home confinement, for conspiracy to commit money laundering arising from the same scheme to defraud.  Awolaja also was ordered to forfeit and pay restitution of $145,045.75.

 

The sentences were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

According to evidence presented at Olla’s 11-day trial, from January 2011, to May 18, 2015, members of the conspiracy searched online dating websites to initiate romantic relationships with vulnerable male and female individuals.  They phoned, emailed, texted, and used internet chat messenger services to form romantic relationships with the victims, who lived in Maryland and around the country. 

 

Witnesses testified that members of the conspiracy used false stories and promises to convince the victims to give them money, including fake hospital bills, plane trips to visit the victims, and problems with overseas businesses.  Olla and co-conspirators opened bank accounts, called “drop accounts,” that received millions of dollars from the victims.  Testimony at trial showed that victims provided money to Olla and Awolaja as a result of the false stories and promises, either by depositing money directly into drop accounts controlled by the defendants, or by sending checks to them.  Payments from victims ranged from $1,720 to $50,000.

 

Olla, Awolaja, and the co-conspirators dispersed money received from the victims by transferring funds to other accounts they controlled, by obtaining cashier’s checks, and by writing checks to individuals or entities, all done to conceal the nature, source, and control of those assets.  Relatedly, many of the currency transactions were “structured,” or designed to avoid the filing of currency transaction reports, which financial institutions are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service for currency transactions exceeding $10,000.

 

The following co-defendants were previously convicted at trial or pleaded guilty:

 

Gbenga Benson Ogundele, a/k/a “Benson Ogundele,” age 58, of Laurel, Maryland;

Victor Oyewumi Oloyede, age 42, of Laurel, Maryland;

Olusegun Charles Ogunseye, a/k/a “Charles O. Ogunseye,” age 58, of Laurel, Maryland;

Babatunde Emmanuel Popoola, a/k/a “Emmanuel Popoola” a/k/a “Tunde Popoola, age 34, of Bowie, Maryland;

Mojisola Tinuola Popoola, a/k/a “Mojisola Oluwakemi Tin Popoola” and “Moji T. Popoola,” age 42, of Laurel, Maryland; and

Olufemi Wilfred Williams, a/k/a “Wilfred Olufemi Williams” and “Femi Williams,” age 26, of Owings Mills, Maryland.

 

The Maryland Identity Theft Working Group has been working since 2006 to foster cooperation among local, state, federal, and institutional fraud investigators and to promote effective prosecution of identity theft schemes by both state and federal prosecutors. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Working Group, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to work with financial institutions and businesses to address identity fraud, identify those who compromise personal identity information, and protect citizens from identity theft.

 

Today’s announcement is part of the efforts undertaken in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 United States Attorneys’ Offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

 

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas P. Windom, Ray D. McKenzie, and Leah Jo Bressack, who prosecuted the case.

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Updated September 21, 2017