Two individuals have been convicted for their role in a $2 million romance scam conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Kunle Mutiu Amoo, 48, and Lanre Sunday Adeoba, 61, both Nigerian citizens who resided outside the Houston area, each pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud.
The romance scam involved a scheme to defraud victims of money using false romantic overtures and false promises that the victims would be repaid. In this conspiracy, a member of the conspiracy posed as the manager of a construction company doing business in South Africa who needed the victim’s financial assistance to move $42 million in construction project proceeds from South Africa to the United States. The defendants posed as South African diplomats who were responsible for transporting the money into the United States and who also needed the victim’s financial assistance in order to transport the money.
As part of their pleas today, Amoo and Adeoba admitted they agreed and attempted to defraud this victim of $511,000.
The overall conspiracy caused the victim a loss of $2 million.
According to the FBI, romance scams, also classified as confidence frauds, result in the highest amount of financial losses when compared to other internet-enabled crimes. In 2015 victims of confidence frauds reported financial losses of nearly 200 million dollars to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3 website.
U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett accepted the guilty pleas and set sentencing for Sept. 22, 2016. At that time, each faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. They both will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin R. Martin is prosecuting the case.