Three Nigerian scammers have been given jail sentences for defrauding victims they met on dating sites of tens of millions of dollars.
Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison; Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, was sentenced to 115 years and Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, got 25 years in prison, according to a report by Infosecurity Magazine. That brings it to a total of 235 years in prison.
They were tried and found guilty by a court in the Southern District of Mississippi. Their crimes include; identity theft, mail, credit card, and wire fraud; and theft of government property.
Ayelotan and Raheem were also found guilty of conspiracies to commit bank fraud and money laundering.
The scammers have reportedly been carrying out their operations as far back as 2001. They were part of a string of scams against Americans, facilitated by internet communications. They got involved in what is popularly called 419, where their victims are promised a massive amount in return for making some payments into the criminals' accounts. The criminals did not stop there but went even further.
They reportedly befriend women on dating sites, start a romantic relationship and then either get them to send money or have them participate in fraud schemes, usually without the victim’s knowledge. Sometimes the unsuspecting women were made to cash counterfeit checks or use stolen credit cards to buy things. They were used to launder money via Western Union and the likes.
They were also accused of running romance stings to steal from lonely people, shipping fraud, running fake work-from-home businesses, check fraud, and hijacking other people’s bank accounts and credit cards to divert funds.
21 defendants have already been charged in the case, which is still ongoing. 12 of whom have pleaded guilty to charges involving conspiracy and 11 of whom have been sentenced.