A federal grand jury has indicted eleven defendants in the Northern District of Texas for cheating on older victims in romances, US Attorney Prerak Shah said.
The 11 defendants, all arrested Wednesday morning during a large-scale operation, are charged with a wide variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire transfer fraud and conspiracy to launder financial instruments. The majority of the defendants charged in this investigation have ties to a transnational organized crime syndicate originating in Nigeria, police said on Friday.
According to court documents, these defendants allegedly exploited elderly victims, many of whom were widowed or divorced. They took on fake names and trolled dating sites like Match.com, ChistianMingle, JSwipe, and PlentyofFish in search of destinations.
After ingratifying themselves on their victims, they supposedly fabricated sobbing stories about why they needed money – i.e. taxes to free an inheritance, important foreign travel, crippling debts, etc. – and then withdrew money from the victims’ accounts, tens of thousands of dollars at a time.
âCrimes like this are particularly despicable because they are based not only on victims’ lack of internet knowledge, but also on their isolation, loneliness and sometimes grief. While the victims open their hearts, the perpetrators open their wallets, “Acting US Attorney Prerak Shah said at a press conference announcing the charges. “The only mistake these victims make is being generous to the wrong people.”
âThe crimes these defendants allegedly committed hit very closely. Your neighbors, parents, friends and family would be targets of this organization. The scammers intimidated and verbally abused their victims, ruined their lives and then disappeared, “said Matthew J. DeSarno, special agent for the FBI Dallas. “We are confident that this investigation will have a significant impact in this region and beyond.”
The indictments unsealed in the Northern District of Texas today complement a related indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of Texas that charges 23 defendants (including one also indicted in the Northern District of Texas) a variety of financial crimes.
Defendants in the Northern District of Texas include:
- David Animashaun, 38 – arrested in DFW on charges of wire fraud conspiracy
- Oluwalobamise Michael Moses, 40 – arrested in DFW on charges of wire fraud conspiracy
- Irabor Fatarr Musa, 51 – arrested in the Eastern District of Texas on charges of the Northern District of Texas wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Ijeoma Okoro, 31 – arrested in DFW, wire fraud, conspiracy fraud, money laundering conspiracy
- Chukwemeka Orji, 36 – arrested in DFW on charges of wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Emanuel Stanley Orji, 35 – arrested at DFW on charges of wire fraud conspiracy
- Frederick Orji, 37 – arrested in Dallas on charges of wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy
- Uwadiale Esezobor, 36 – arrested in Lubbock on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud
- Victor Idowu, 36 – arrested in Los Angeles on charges of postal and wire fraud conspiracy
- Afeez Abiola Alao, 37 – Wire Transfer Fraud Conspiracy, Money Laundering Conspiracy
- Ambrose Sunday Ohide, 47 – wire fraud conspiracy
Charges are just allegations of criminal behavior, not evidence. The defendants are considered innocent until judicial evidence of their guilt is provided.
If convicted, the defendants face 20 years in federal prison on charges of wire fraud and up to 10 years in federal prison for money laundering conspiracies.
The Dallas Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and IRS – Criminal Investigation led the investigation with the assistance of the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the US Postal Inspection Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, the US Marshals, US Citizenship & Immigration Services, and the US State Department. Assistant US Attorneys Mary Walters, George Leal, and Erica Hilliard lead cases for the Northern District of Texas with the assistance of Assistant US Attorneys in the Eastern District of Texas.
The FBI Estimates that in 2020 alone, more than 20,000 people lost more than $ 600 million to love fraud. For tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Romance Scam Website. To report suspected romance scams, submit a report through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at. a www.ic3.gov.