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FBI arrests 11 Nigerians over alleged love scams

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AUTHORITIES in the United States have arrested 11 Nigerians for allegedly defrauding elderly victims in romance schemes.

Acting U.S. Attorney, Prerak Shah, announced last Friday that a federal grand jury indicted the defendants in the Northern District of Texas, two days after they were arrested in a large-scale operation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The defendants were identified as David Animashaun, Oluwalobamise Michael Moses, Irabor Fatarr Musa, Chukwemeka Orji, Frederick Orji, and Emanuel Stanley Orji.

Others are Ijeoma Okoro, Uwadiale Esezobor, Victor Idowu, Afeez Abiola Alao, and Ambrose Sunday Oxide.

A majority of the defendants allegedly have ties to a transnational organised crime syndicate originating in Nigeria and are charged with a variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Court documents claimed the defendants used fake names to troll dating sites and target elderly victims, many of them widowed or divorced, preying on their loneliness, and sometimes their grief.

“Once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they allegedly concocted sob-stories about why they needed money – i.e., taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc. – and then siphoned money from victim’s accounts, tens of thousands of dollars at a time,” Shaw explained.

The defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison on the wire fraud conspiracy count and up to 10 years in federal prison on the money laundering conspiracy counts.

More than 20,000 people lost over $600 million in romance scams in 2020, according to the FBI’s estimates.

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