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Press Release

Coon Rapids Man Pleads Guilty to $1.29M Romance Fraud Scheme that Targeted Elderly Victims

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A Coon Rapids man has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.

According to court documents, from at least in or about June 2020 through in or about March 2021, Solomon Eghosa Wilfred, 42, and other scheme participants knowingly and intentionally participated in and facilitated an online romance fraud scheme that targeted primarily elderly victims and lured them into sending money under false pretenses. The scheme relied on impersonating a real or plausible but fictitious person, such as a senior U.S. diplomat or military official, that contacted the victims through online social media applications.  The scheme participants then sought to forge a romantic connection with the victims. If successful, the scheme participants would then ask the victims for money purportedly to assist the false persona with some problem or need. Occasionally, the scheme participants would even introduce the victims to a purported third-party intermediary who would corroborate the false persona’s story and assist in defrauding the victims. The victims eventually were directed to send large sums of money by mail or other commercial means to a specified name and address.

Wilfred also assisted with the collection and transfer of the fraudulently obtained funds. Wilfred opened at least six Post Office boxes in Minnesota to receive victims’ packages and to send funds from victims to other scheme participants. Wilfred also communicated with some victims to facilitate the fraud scheme. For example, Wilfred admitted to sending victims cards and rings using the name of the false persona. In total, Wilfred received over 400 victim packages containing approximately $1,294,995 in fraud proceeds during the scheme. Wilfred kept some of the proceeds for his personal benefit and disbursed the remainder of the proceeds to other scheme participants.

Wilfred pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court before Judge Katherine M. Menendez to mail fraud. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jordan L. Sing and Robert M. Lewis are prosecuting the case.

Updated June 20, 2023

Financial Fraud