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Press Release

Romance Scammers Accused of Taking More than Love from Victims, Approximately $8M

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

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, returned an indictment today charging seven defendants in a romance scam that cost victims around the United States and the world $8 million in losses. 

The announcement, made on Valentine’s Day, comes as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s ongoing efforts with law enforcement partners to raise awareness and prevent these crimes from taking place. Romance Scam PSA.

According to court documents, the defendants include, Bolanle Christina Odeyale, 39, Forney, Texas; Oghenemine Jeffrey Agbroko, 34, of Nigeria; Charles Owhonigho Emurotu, 40, of Ontario, Canada; Jimmy Iwezu, 44, of Forney, Texas; Lori Tsoritse, 38, of Nigeria; Christopher Onyedikachi Okereke, 38, of Nigeria; and Rukevwe Solomon Ologban, 44, of Grand Prairie, Texas. 

As alleged in the indictment, from March 2018 through June 2019, the defendants worked with a group of individuals in the District of Utah, aka the Utah Money Transmitters, who agreed to help overseas operators launder money obtained from the romance scheme. The primary operators of the alleged romance scams are known as the “Yahoo boys,” and operated in Nigeria.  The defendants either helped the Utah Money Transmitters source opportunities to work with Yahoo boys or helped them to transmit the fraud proceeds from the District of Utah to other places within the United States or abroad. Ultimately, the goal of the money laundering activities was to transmit the criminal proceeds to the Yahoo boys overseas, while paying a share of the financial gains to those who help move the funds along the way. 

As alleged in the indictment, the Yahoo boys typically created a fictitious online persona and used the false persona to pursue online relationships with potential targets of the scam. Once gaining the victims’ trust, the Yahoo boys would use a false pretense, such as a need to buy a laptop for a child in college, the need to repair equipment, pay an emergency medical expense or debt to the government. Many of the victims were elderly and lost their life savings, family inheritances and retirement funds. In return for their generosity, the victims were often promised the money would be returned. 

An essential role in the romance scam was the Utah Money Transmitters. By operating in the District of Utah, they opened accounts at United States financial institutions to be used to collect money from victims and to distribute money to the coconspirators, to conceal the ultimate destination of the funds and the Yahoo boys’ location and identities. 

The defendants are charged with various federal crimes, including wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Their initial court appearance on the indictment will be scheduled for a later date and held before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at the Orrin G. Hatch United States District Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City. 

The FBI Salt Lake City Field Office is investigating the case. 

Assistant United States Attorney Carl D. Lesueur of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah is prosecuting the case. 

The FBI encourages those engaged in online relationships to review and become familiar with information about romance scams on its website Additionally, if you or someone you know has been a victim, file a complaint with the FBI at For more information on romance scams, visit:

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 


Felicia Martinez
Public Affairs Specialist
(801) 325-3237
USAO-UT | Facebook | Twitter

Updated February 14, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-17