Man gets 25 years for international catfishing and email scams
FBI says he set up the network where fraudsters would convince widows to send them money to bail them out of trouble
ATLANTA, Georgia (WDEF) – Prosecutors say Elvis Eghosa Ogiekpolor orchestrated an international fraud scheme preying on romance and business.
Now he has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.
He was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in Georgia.
The FBI says he and his crew of “money mules” opened at least 50 fake business bank accounts and filled them with almost $10 million dollars from online romance frauds and business email scams.
He then laundered the money through other accounts, many overseas.
“Ogiekpolor and his co-conspirators were part of a broader international network of online fraudsters and money launderers who wreaked havoc and devastation on unsuspecting individuals and businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.
The victims were from both inside and outside the United States.
In the romance scams, fraudsters pose a potential paramours online.
They create fake dating profiles, with photos.
Then they convince retired widows or widowers to send them money.
They say Ogiekpolor would convince the victims to wire money directly into the fake accounts he set up in Georgia.
He then would re-route them to launder the money and then withdraw it from other accounts.
Several women testified at the trial. They told how they met male strangers online and were convinced they were in a romantic relationship, even though they would not meet in person.
“Often these men claimed they wanted to start a life with the victims and were eager to live with them as soon as some kind of issue was resolved.”
In one case, a victim wired $32,000 because her “boyfriend” claimed he needed to replace a part on his oil rig, but his bank account was frozen.
She borrowed against her retirement and savings accounts to get the money.
Another woman sent a man she met on eHarmony $70,000 to pay his debts who also had a frozen account.
Prosecutors say the 13 romance fraud victims who testified were just a drop in the bucket.
Ogiekpolor was convicted after an 8 day trial in May.