Nigerian serial romance scammer faces 20-year jail term in US

Written by on February 18, 2022

A Nigerian residing in Dorchester has pleaded guilty in an American court in Boston to his role in online romance scams targeting individuals in the United States.

US Department of Justice (DoJ) in a statement said 42-year-old Mike Oziegbe Amiegbe pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for May 23, 2022. Amiegbe was charged by criminal complaint in March 2021, DoJ said.

From approximately 2017 through at least 2020, DoJ said Amiegbe and others participated in a series of romance scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts controlled by them.

DoJ disclosed that romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim.

“In furtherance of the scheme, Amiegbe deposited checks from victims into bank accounts opened under false identities,” DoJ said. “Amiegbe and, allegedly, co-conspirators then withdrew and passed a portion of the funds to co-conspirators. Amiegbe admitted that at least $550,000 in fraud proceeds was deposited into fraudulent bank accounts he controlled.”

DoJ said persons charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud risks a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Amiegbe and five others in March 2021 were charged in three criminal complaints in connection with their roles in expansive online fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States, including romance scams and pandemic unemployment assistance fraud.

Other members of the romance scam ring charged included Osakpamwan Henry Omoruyi, 36, a Nigerian national residing in Canton, Mass.; Osaretin Godspower Omoruyi, 34, a Nigerian national residing in Canton, Mass; and Macpherson Osemwegie, 32, of Hyde Park, Mass. were charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Mark Arome Okuo, 41, a Nigerian national residing in Canton, Mass., and Florence Mwende Musau, 36, a Kenyan national residing in Canton, Mass., were also charged in a separate complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud.

DoJ said the charge documents said the defendants allegedly participated in a series of romance and other online scams designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts and debit cards controlled by them.

TheGuardian


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