Pair Indicted for Using Internet Dating Site for Wire Fraud Scheme
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Today, a federal grand jury has indicted KEN EJIMOFOR EZEAH, 33, from Nigeria, and AKUNNA BAIYINA EJIOFOR, 31, a resident of Houston, Texas, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, announced Mark Yancey, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
According to the indictment, defendants and their co-conspirators would use false profile information to open user accounts on online dating web sites and contact other users under the guise of forming an online relationship. Instead, it is alleged, the contact was actually for the purpose of attempting to scam money from other users by claiming to be successful financial advisors or affiliated with charitable causes.
It is alleged the defendants used telephone calls, cell phone text messages, and messages through the dating web site in order to further the illusion that a genuine relationship was developing. As the online relationship progressed, it is alleged, the defendants would make inquiries about their potential victim’s finances and investments and claim to have inside information, such as knowledge that the victim’s investment firm was under investigation by government authorities or was financially unsound. Ultimately, it is alleged, the defendants would use these false claims to persuade the victims that their money or investments were unsafe and cause the victims to wire money to the defendants. In reality, it is alleged, the defendants kept the victim’s money for themselves. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants used this scheme to cause one victim from Oklahoma City to wire $500,000 on May 11, 2015, and another $501,000 on May 14, 2015, from her bank account to Barclays Bank in London.
Ezeah and Ejiofor were been charged by criminal complaint and were arrested in Houston, Texas, on January 27, 2016.
If convicted, Ezeah and Ejiofor each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The public is reminded that the indictment is merely an accusation and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Reference is made to court records for further information.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Ogilvie.