2 in 6 NJs charged with $ 3.5 million online romance scam


Two people from New Jersey are among six accused of concocting an online romance scam that stole $ 3.5 million from victims over a two-year period, authorities said.

Abuchi Shedrach Felix, 29, and Olanrewayu Ajibola, 36, both of Newark, are each charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, the US Attorney’s Office for Southern State said on Wednesday. New York. Four others – three from New York and one from Maryland face the same charge.

Felx, Ajobola and their associates retrieved a model’s photographs from the Internet and created online profiles on dating sites using the names “Diego Francisco”, “Richard Francisco” or “Tom Francisco”, according to prosecutors. After making contact with targets on dating sites, the group communicated with victims via email, text, and phone and eventually made up stories to ask for money, uploading documents.

A victim was falsely told that “Francisco” was working on an oil rig that exploded and that he could not access his accounts, prompting the person to send money for repairs, authorities said.

Another time, a victim was convinced that “Francisco” was a civil engineer planning to travel to Dubai for a presentation to the Department of Public Works for a potential $ 12 million project. “Francisco” told the victim that he won the offer but was unable to pay for a contract approval certificate because his bank account was frozen.

The six crooks set up shell companies to launder the money sent to them, prosecutors said. One shell company claimed to be a music promoter, another a taxi service, and a third claimed to sell hair bandages, jewelry and clothing.

The six suspected thieves, however, used the money to buy cars, food, furniture, alcohol, and rides with car services.

Felix, Ajibola and Oluwatomiwa Akintola, 27 from Brooklyn, New York, were arrested Tuesday at Newark Liberty International Airport while Gregory Ochiagha, 55 from the Bronx was arrested in New York. the authorities said. They first appeared in court on Wednesday in Manhattan. The other two – Nadine Jazmine Wade, 28, from the Bronx, and Habiba Fagge, 24, from Towson, Md., Are still wanted.

The U.S. Secret Service and IRS assisted federal investigators.

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Jeff Goldman can be reached at [email protected].

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