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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Atlanta Man For His Role In Romance Fraud Scheme

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Tochukwu Okerulu a/k/a MT, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, for his role in a romance fraud scheme. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, the defendant is accused of participating in a romance fraud,  a scheme orchestrated to obtain cash and property from unsuspecting victims using romantic overtures and appealing to victims’ emotions. Okerulu allegedly conspired with others to defraud a victim in the Western District of New York with another member of the conspiracy falsely expressing a romantic interest in the victim, which prompted the victim to send more than $220,000 to members of the conspiracy. 

In addition to the victim in the Western District of New York, other victims nationwide were similarly defrauded, through romance fraud and other schemes. A total of 29 victims lost approximately $1,745,928 as a result of Okerulu’s role in this conspiracy.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia, and Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.   

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated May 5, 2021