Two Ordered to Federal Prison for Involvement in Romance Scam Conspiracy
HOUSTON – Two Nigerian citizens have been ordered to prison for their role in a $2 million romance scam conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Kunle Mutiu Amoo, 49, and Lanre Sunday Adeoba, 62, both citizens of Nigeria, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud on July 15, 2016.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett sentenced both defendants to 36 months in prison. They were further ordered to pay $86,581.15 in restitution. In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett noted that as a result of the offense, the victim had suffered substantial financial hardship and that the defendants had abused a position of trust by falsely representing themselves as diplomats from South Africa. Not U.S. citizens, they are expected to face deportation proceedings following their release from prison.
The romance scam involved a scheme to defraud victims of money using false romantic overtures and false promises that the victims would be repaid. In this conspiracy, a member of the conspiracy posed as the manager of a construction company doing business in South Africa who needed the victim’s financial assistance to move $42 million in construction project proceeds from South Africa to the United States. The defendants posed as South African diplomats who were responsible for transporting the money into the United States and who also needed the victim’s financial assistance in order to transport the money.
As part of their pleas, Amoo and Adeoba admitted they agreed and attempted to defraud this victim of $506,000.
The overall conspiracy caused the victim a loss of $2 million.
Amoo and Adeoba will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
According to the FBI, romance scams, also classified as confidence frauds, result in the highest amount of financial losses when compared to other Internet-enabled crimes. In 2015, victims of confidence frauds reported financial losses of nearly $200 million to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you think you've been victimized by a dating or other online scam, report it to www.ic3.gov.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin R. Martin is prosecuting the case.