A trio involved in a series of “romance scams” gets sentenced to 235 years in jail after defrauding potentially millions of online dating site victims.
All three men running the cyber scam were Nigerian nationals and were sentenced in the U.S. for running the international fraud scheme after being extradited from South Africa in 2015.
A spokesperson from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which led the investigation, told Sky News: “The total number of victims is believed to number in the millions across the globe.”
“Our investigators are still currently working cases,” they added, but they reportedly had enough evidence to convict the three men of several cyber crimes, dating back to at least 2001, which took place during a three-week trial earlier this year.
As part of the scheme, the cyber criminals preyed on innocent people online via “work-from-home” opportunities and “romance scams,” in which they assumed false identities on dating sites to gain the trust and affection of their unsuspecting victims before persuading them to either send money or help them carry out cyber scams, according to court documents.
The defendants later admitted they used victims to launder money via Western Union and MoneyGram, as well as used them to re-package and re-ship stolen goods. They also used the victims to cash counterfeit checks and use stolen credit cards to purchase items, as well as instructed them to use stolen personal information to take over other victims’ bank accounts.
Prosecutors claim the conspiracy amounted to “tens of millions of dollars in intended losses.”
Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, has been sentenced to 95 years in prison, Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, has been sentenced to 115 years, and Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, received 25 years–a collective total of 235 years in prison.
SkyNews reports the trio’s sentences are some of the heaviest handed down as part of the investigation by U.S. officials into an international cyber crime operation, which has seen a total of 21 individuals charged in relation to the cyber fraud scheme.
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