Another set of Nigerians indicted in US over romance scams

Federal agents hold a detainee, second from left, at a downtown Los Angeles parking lot after predawn raids that saw dozens of people arrested in the L.A. area Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. U.S. authorities have unsealed a 252-count federal grand jury indictment charging 80 people with participating in a conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a range of fraud schemes and laundering the funds through a Los Angeles-based network. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Thursday most of the defendants are Nigerian nationals. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

At least five persons of Nigeria origin have been indicted in a United State Federal Court after an international fraud investigation, U.S. attorney Stephan McAllister said.

The names of the indicted persons published on the website of the United States Attorney for the District of Kansas, on Tuesday, showed that all the five names published have names that of Nigerian origin.

While King Bassey Essien, 26, Franklin Ogochukwu Okapu, 20, Oluwatimileyin Aloaye Frederick Diyaolu, 21, and Emmanuel Oluwaseun Daramola, 22, are based in Wichita, a city in Kansas, the fifth person Abasiakara Ime Ekanem, 22, is based in Nigeria.

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“The indictment alleges the defendants received money from victims of fraud in the United States and foreign countries,” McAllister says.

“The frauds took many forms including romance scams and investment scams designed to cause victims to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by the defendants and others.”

“The defendants would transfer the money to other accounts, primarily in Nigeria and Ghana. The defendants also transferred money among themselves, received transfers and made cash withdrawals.”

McAllister said the five defendants were accused of transferring more than $923,000 to an unindicted conspirator in Lagos, Nigeria and more than $211,000 to another unindicted conspirator, also in Lagos.

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“The defendants in Kansas were among more than 280 people arrested in the United States and overseas as a result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Post Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of State,” McAllister says.

The widespread investigation targeted many kinds of scams. If convicted on their charges, McAllister said the five men who appeared in federal court in Wichita each face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $500,000.

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This is coming days less than a month the US authorities announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs.

American authorities unsealed a 252-count grand jury indictment charging those people in an operation that procured at least $46m from victims of internet scam jobs.

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