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Press Release

Essex County Man Sentenced to 27 Months in Prison for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Wire Fraud in Connection with Romance Scam

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

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man was sentenced to 27 months in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with an online romance scam, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Mahmoud Bowler, 40, of Newark, was convicted on April 13, 2023, of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud following a four-day trial before U.S. Circuit Court Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr., sitting by designation to hold a District Court trial within the Circuit. U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti imposed the sentence on Oct. 24, 2023, in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:

From February 2015 through June 2019, Bowler and a conspirator participated in an online romance scheme. Bowler’s conspirator created a fraudulent profile on an online dating site and then pretended to strike up a romantic relationship with a woman living in Florida. In the online profile, Bowler’s conspirator falsely represented that he, and a company he owned, had been awarded multimillion-dollar oil contract. After establishing a virtual romantic relationship with the victim, the conspirator repeatedly solicited alleged loans from the victim, claiming that he could not access his own accounts because a foreign government had frozen his assets. 

From April 2018 to September 2018, the victim was directed to wire money to Bowler’s bank account on four separate occasions. After receiving the funds, Bowler withdrew a portion of the funds in cash, sent money to other individuals in Ghana through a money remitter, and wired some of the money to family members in Ghana.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martinotti sentenced Bowler to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $44,821.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy; detectives from the New York City Police Department Intelligence and Counterterrorism Unit, under the direction of Chief Thomas Galati; detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens; and detectives from the Port Authority Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent of Police, Edward Cetnar, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Kearney of the Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dong Joo Lee of the Criminal Division.

Updated October 26, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-311