Three individuals who were involved in an international romance fraud scheme were sentenced this week.
From approximately October 2013 to August 2015 the defendants participated in a scheme to defraud victims in the United States and Canada out of more than $12.9 million.
Co-schemers targeted victims by creating fake profiles on online dating services, and once they had gained the victims’ trust, they got them to pay “inheritance taxes” on non-existent inheritances and to send money in exchange for checks, which turned out to be fraudulent.
Judge Peterson in the US court believed that the loss of $12.9 million was likely understated, given the scope of the scheme and how many were victims there were.
U.S District Judge James D. Peterson sentenced Richard Ugbah, 36, a Nigerian citizen living in Atlanta, on Monday to 12 years in prison for his role in the scheme and ordered to forfeit two bank accounts and a Mercedes Benz automobile.
Michael Adegoke, 34, a Nigerian citizen living in Chicago, was sentenced on Tuesday to 12 years in prison for his role in the scheme, as he pleaded guilty on March 3rd to wire fraud.
Finally, Jon Whipple, 60, from St Petersburg, FL was sentenced to five years of probation for his role in the scheme, and was given a shorter sentence to counterfeit checks.
Whipple was initially a victim of a previous romance fraud scheme, but participated in disseminating counterfeit checks for money. He pleaded guilty on February 16th to counterfeit security.
The defendants were also ordered to repay the money back to the victims, but is unlikely the victims will be repaid as the fraud proceeds were spent on either being directed to accounts overseas or on luxury items.
Read the full case here.