A Nigerian woman studying in the United States, Oyindamola Akinrinola, has pleaded guilty in a federal court for her role in Nigerian fraud schemes that targeted Americans.
The 23-year-old and her co-conspirators in Nigeria victimised individuals, several of them elderly, through a variety of online scams, said U.S. Attorney, Stephen McAllister.
Ms Akinrinola, who was granted legal permanent residency in the United States in 2018, lives in Kansas city.
“She now faces time in federal prison for her crimes. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prioritise the investigation and prosecution of fraud schemes like these, no matter where they originate.
“I also take this conviction as an opportunity to reiterate to all Kansans the vulnerability of our senior citizens to scams and con artists, who prey upon them. We must all be vigilant to protect our parents, grandparents, elderly relatives, friends and neighbors from such frauds and fraudsters.
“Scams such as lottery, online dating, and impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees continue to be a major threat to taxpayers, especially senior citizens,” said Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
How she operated
The attorney said Ms Akinrinola’s co-conspirator in Nigeria orchestrated several scams, such as tricking victims into believing they were eligible for fictitious awards or establishing purported romantic relationships with victims and exploiting their affections.
“The co-conspirator in Nigeria directed victims to send money to Akinrinola. While in Kansas as a college student, she received funds from the scam victims—in amounts ranging from hundreds of dollars to as much $20,000—via wire transfers, money orders, financial applications, Wal-Mart money grams, Western Union, the United States Postal Service, and various other means.
“Akinrinola kept a portion for herself as her reward and sent the bulk of the funds to her co-conspirator in Nigeria. To do so, she generally used the Sendwave, WorldRemit, or Boss Revolution mobile applications.”
Citing instances, the attorney said some victims received Facebook messages from an individual who purported to be with FedEx and were tricked into making payments.
“They were told they won a $130,000 grant and that FedEx would deliver the cash after Victim 2 paid a “case file fee.” Victim 2 then deposited $2,500 cash into a Bank of America account for the fee. Victim 2 was then told she needed to pay another $1,000 for a “winning certificate.”
”Because Victims 1 and 2 did not have $1,000, they allowed the purported Facebook account holder to purchase three iPhones through their Verizon accounts. Victims 1 and 2 were instructed to mail the iPhones to Akinrinola (in Kansas). Victim 2 then received an image from the Facebook account claiming to be from the IRS and requesting $15,000 before release of the grant funds.
“Victim 3 was the victim of an online dating scam and lost approximately $8,000, of which he sent $900 to Akinrinola via a kiosk at a Walgreens store.
“Victim 4 also was the victim of an online dating scam. Victim 4 lost approximately $3,815, and he sent $710 to Akinrinola. Victim 4 believed the money was for musical instruments for children in Nigeria.
“Victim 5 was the victim of a Facebook scam. A man on Facebook, known to Victim 5 as “Steven,” told Victim 5 that he was in the military and needed money, and Victim 5 sent $1,000 to Akinrinola in this scam.”
The sentencing is scheduled for June 15 before U.S. District Judge Holly L. Teeter.
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