A Nigerian man living in Georgia has been arrested and had his first appearance in federal court in Atlanta on charges of laundering the proceeds of romance scams that targeted victims in the Eastern District of North Carolina and throughout the United States.
According to court documents seen by SaharaReporters, Oluwadamilare Kolaogunbule, aka “Dare” opened, maintained, and controlled multiple bank accounts, referred to as “drop accounts” that were used to receive, move, and obscure criminal proceeds, including funds derived from romance scams.
A romance scam refers to a scheme in which scammers create fake profiles on Internet dating sites to identify victims, form fraudulent romantic relationships with them, and then exploit them for profit.
According to the allegations in the indictment, co-defendant Samuel Ugberaese, a/k/a” “Putsammy” a Nigerian national, and his co-conspirators, used romance scam techniques, including false stories and promises, as a means to defraud victims into transferring money on their behalf.
It is alleged that Kolaogunbule conspired with Ugberaese to conduct financial transactions through his bank accounts, including accounts registered to purported Georgia export companies, to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the criminal proceeds.
The indictment seeks a forfeiture money judgment for at least $2,367,520 related to the schemes.
Kolaogunbule is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and faces a maximum penalty of 240 months in prison if convicted.
“Romance scams are among the most prolific and despicable crimes of the digital age. Con artists outside of our borders stalk Internet dating websites for the sole purpose of taking advantage of individuals looking for companionship” stated United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr.
“They make false promises of love, but the victims—many of whom are older Americans—find only emotional and financial devastation. The losses associated with these crimes is staggering. According to theFBI’ss Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams produce greater reported financial losses than other online crimes.
“In 2019 alone, romance scams generated reported losses over $475 million. To move these criminal proceeds in and out of our financial system, the scammers often rely on domestic money launderers to help them avoid detection and maximise their profits.
“Disrupting these criminal networks and vindicating the rights of victims to see justice, with targeted investigations and prosecutions, will continue to be a top priority for my office.
“It takes a heartless person to prey on lonely, elderly people. Some of these victims were essentially robbed of their life savings so these conspirators could profit.”
The FBI and our law enforcement partners are focused on holding offenders accountable who rip off our senior citizens,” said Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Charlotte.