U.S. court jails Nigerian 51 months for Internet fraud

A Nigerian man Ismaila Fafunmi has been convicted at a U.S. District Court after Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicted him of crimes bordering on money laundering, romance scams and other fraudulent schemes targeting American senior citizens.

Mr Fafunmi will spend 51 months in a U.S. federal prison for the charges, ruled Judge Karen Walden on Friday.

Ms Walden gave the announcement alongside Carlton S. Shier, IV, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Edward J. Gray, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI. 

Mr Fafunmi pleaded guilty to the charges in August 2020. He will be required to serve 85 per cent of his prison sentence, in accordance with federal law, after which he will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years.

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The court records revealed that Mr Fafunmi was part of an elaborate scheme, involving scammers in Nigeria who targeted Americans in search of romance or offered fake federal grants to senior citizens. 

The records show that Mr Fafunmi admitted, in his plea agreement, to setting up fake profiles on dating websites profiling American men mostly military personnel.  Any money sent by the victim was paid into bank accounts with fake names, after which Mr Fafunmi would split the loot with his associates in Nigeria.

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One of the victims of the scheme lived in Kentucky. A lady spent over $200,000 in funds, gift cards, and electronic devices to him. Mr Fafunmi had told her, according to an affidavit by FBI agent Chelsea Holliday, that he wanted to marry her but was deployed to Syria. Mr Fafunmi told the victim he needed $75,000 to get out of the army. The victim took out a loan on her house and sent $73,000 to an account Mr Fafunmi provided.

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