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Press Release

Fifth Defendant Sentenced for Laundering Proceeds of Scams Targeting Elderly U.S. Citizens

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

PROVIDENCE, RI – The fifth and final foreign national convicted for laundering proceeds of a multi-faceted conspiracy, run out of Nigeria, that defrauded elderly U.S. citizens of more than $1.7 million through online scams has been sentenced to federal prison, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

Dotun Olawale Alonge, 47, of Providence, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 18 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of federal supervised release. He pleaded guilty on September 12, 2023, to a charge of money laundering conspiracy.

Elderly individuals in several states, including Rhode Island, were befriended by scammers feigning romantic intentions through online social media platforms and dating sites. Scammers then used the relationships and trust they built to convince victims to provide them with money to assist with business ventures or personal debt.

Other victims were falsely told they had won a sweepstakes, but that upfront cash payments were required to release the funds to the winner; yet other victims were scammed by paying rent to individuals who purported to own property they in fact did not own or control.

 “Foreign nationals who believe that Rhode Island seniors are easy prey for fraud schemes should think again,” said U.S. Attorney Cunha.  “Preying on the emotions of vulnerable victims to gain access to their hard-earned savings is as despicable as it is devastating, and we and our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to make sure that those responsible face justice.”

“These con men had no compunction about swindling elderly victims all over the country out of their hard-earned money and playing on their emotions to do so. What they did wasn’t just cowardly, it was cruel,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “There is no way we can make the victims of these schemes, many who have lost their life savings, whole again. Hopefully, they can find some solace in knowing these fraudsters are now spending time behind bars for their selfish, and disgraceful conduct. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will never stop working to shut down elder fraud schemes like this, to protect older folks from those who want take advantage of them. If you or someone you know has been victimized, please reach out to us.”

According to charging documents and information presented to the court, victims were instructed by scammers in Nigeria to wire cash to bank accounts or to mail payments in the form of cash or money orders to various mailing addresses in Rhode Island controlled by the defendant. To conceal the source and location of the funds, members of the conspiracy moved the money through multiple banks and businesses in Rhode Island, Idaho, and elsewhere. The majority of the proceeds were eventually sent on to Nigeria. Members of the conspiracy also used some of the money to purchase vehicles that were shipped to Nigeria.

Olabode Shaba, 36, formerly of North Providence; Dotun Olawale Oladipupu Shodipo, 44, of Providence; Samson Ikotun, 36, formerly of East Providence; and Oluwaseyi Akintola, 38, formerly of Moscow, Idaho, were previously convicted and sentenced to terms of incarceration in federal prison that range between time served (dating back to their arrest and detention) to 42 months. Each defendant has been ordered to pay approximately $455,750 in restitution joint and several with each other to individuals identified by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to be victims of the scams and who have requested repayment of their losses.

Several of the defendants are facing deportation proceedings after completion of their terms of incarceration.

An arrest warrant has been issued for a sixth defendant, Adetunji Abudu, 38, who is a fugitive from justice.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Denise M. Barton.

The matter was investigated by the FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

United States Attorney Cunha thanks United States Customs and Border Patrol; United States Secret Service; Rhode Island State Police; Providence, North Providence, East Providence, and Johnston, RI, Police Departments; Seekonk, Newton, Norfolk, and Hull, MA, Police Departments; New York State Police; Murphysboro, IL, Police Department; Greybull, WY, Police Department; Grand Island, NE, Police Department; Boca Raton, FL, Police Department; Lake County, FL, Sheriff’s Office; Brecknock Township, PA, Police Department; East Ridge, TN, Police Department; and San Angelo, TX, Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

 

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Contact

Jim Martin

(401) 709-5357

Updated February 27, 2024

Topics
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-19