Three Nigerian scammers have been sentenced by a federal court in Mississippi to 235 years in prison for their roles in running large online scams.
According to the court documents, plea agreements and evidence at trial, the Nigerian scammers operating various online-based fraud schemes since 2001, including so-called dating scams where lonely and credulous people are persuaded pay for airplane tickets and travel medical expenses to meet with a love who never shows up.
Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, was sentenced to 115 years, Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was convicted to 95 years and Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, was sentenced to 25 years. After a three-week trial, a jury found all three guilty of identity theft, wire fraud, mail fraud, credit card fraud and theft of U.S. government property.
Raheem and Ayelotan were additionally convicted of conspiracies to commit money laundering and bank fraud. A total of 21 members of Nigerian scammers were charged in the case, 12 of them already pleaded guilty.
The Nigerian scammers involved using unsuspecting victims to cash out counterfeit checks and money orders, using stolen credit cards data to purchase electronics and other goods. The gang recruited people in the USA via “romance scams,” in which the scammer use a false identity on a dating site to establish a romantic relationship with an unsuspecting victim.
Once the scammers gained the victim’s trust and affection, the scammer would convince the victim to send money and to help carry out fraud schemes. The defendants admitted that they used romance victims to launder money via the Western Union and MoneyGram services, to re-package and re-ship fraudulently obtained goods and to cash out counterfeit checks.
The gang was arrested by South African police within cooperation the US Immigration and Customs Enforcements Homeland Security Investigations and US Postal Inspection Service and extradited from South Africa to the Southern District of Mississippi in July 2015.
According to the Interpol (International Police Organization), The criminals in West Africa pulled over a $3 billion in online scams over the past few years.
If you believe that you or any of your friends may have been a victim of this fraud scheme committed by any of the defendants, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao-sdms/scams and complete the questionnaire form.