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Press Release

Texas Man Admits Role in Scamming Seniors in Rhode Island and Elsewhere in Online Romance Scams

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

PROVIDENCE –  Fola Alabi, aka Folayemi Alabi, 52, of Richmond, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence to charges of conspiracy and money laundering, admitting to a federal judge that he created companies and opened bank accounts that were used to launder more than $1.6 million in proceeds bilked from seniors in at least eleven states, including Rhode Island, in online romance scams, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.

To carry out these schemes, a member of the conspiracy befriended unsuspecting seniors online, often posing as a General in the U.S. military serving overseas. The conspirator feigned a personal, and sometimes romantic, interest in his victims, and convinced them to send substantial sums of money, usually in the form of bank checks or cash, to addresses and companies in Texas that were controlled by Alabi. Alabi received the money and either deposited or directed that it be deposited into one of several bank accounts that he controlled.  He then quickly withdrew or transferred the funds to other accounts.

Among Alabi’s victims is a Rhode Island widow who was contacted by a member of the conspiracy claiming to be a “General Miller,” purportedly a four-star General, who convinced the victim to provide $60,000 to finance shipment of his personal belongings to the United States. At the purported “General Miller’s” direction, a check was made payable to Full Circle Import Exports, a company created by Alabi, and mailed to Alabi’s residence in Texas. The victim was prepared to send an additional significant sum of money to the purported “General Miller,” when it was determined by her bank and the Westerly Police Department that she was likely the victim of fraud.

According to court documents, in a cellphone seized from Alabi at the time of his arrest in May 2022, federal agents discovered photographs and videos of packages containing cash and checks received by Alabi from victims of the scam.

According to a plea agreement filed in this matter, for purposes of sentencing, the loss attributed to the romance scams perpetrated by Alabi and members of the conspiracy is $1,640,421. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Alabi will forfeit assets derived from his criminal conduct, to include his Texas residence and $31,773.22 contained in a bank account.

Alabi is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2023. The defendant’s sentences will be determined by a federal district judge after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ly T. Chin and Sara Bloom.

The matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, FBI, United States Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.

United States Attorney Cunha thanks the Westerly, RI, and Prescott Valley, AZ, Police Departments; Texas Department of Public Safety; West Virginia State Police; the Santa Clara, CA, County District Attorney’s Office; and Defense Criminal Investigative Service for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.

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Contact

Jim Martin
(401) 709-5357

Updated January 16, 2023

Topic
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-08