RALEIGH, N.C. – A Smyrna, Georgia man was arrested and had his first appearance in federal court in Atlanta today on charges of laundering the proceeds of romance scams that targeted victims in the Eastern District of North Carolina and throughout the United States.
According to court documents, Oluwadamilare Kolaogunbule, a/k/a “Dare,” opened, maintained, and controlled multiple bank accounts, referred to as “drop accounts,” that were used to receive, move, and obscure criminal proceeds, including funds derived from romance scams. A romance scam refers to a type of scheme in which scammers create fake profiles on Internet dating sites for the purpose of identifying victims, forming fraudulent romantic relationships with them, and then exploiting them for profit. According to the allegations in the indictment, co-defendant Samuel Ugberaese, a/k/a “Putsammy,” a Nigerian national, and his co-conspirators used romance scam techniques, including false stories and promises, as a means to defraud victims into transferring money on their behalf. It is alleged that Kolaogunbule conspired with Ugberaese to conduct financial transactions through his bank accounts, including accounts registered to purported Georgia export companies, in order to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the criminal proceeds. The indictment seeks a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of at least $2,367,520 related to the schemes.
Kolaogunbule is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and faces a maximum penalty of 240 months in prison if convicted.
“Romance scams are among the most prolific and despicable crimes of the digital age. Con artists outside of our borders stalk Internet dating websites for the sole purpose of taking advantage of individuals looking for companionship,” stated United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. “They make false promises of love, but the victims—many of whom are older Americans—find only emotional and financial devastation. The losses associated with these crimes is staggering; according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams produce greater reported financial losses when compared to other online crimes. In 2019 alone, romance scams generated reported losses in excess of $475 million. In order to move these criminal proceeds in and out of our financial system, the scammers often rely on domestic money launderers to help them avoid detection and maximize their profits. Disrupting these criminal networks and vindicating the rights of victims to see justice, with targeted investigations and prosecutions, will be continue to be a top priority for my office.”
“It takes a heartless person to prey on lonely, elderly people. Some of these victims were essentially robbed of their life savings so these conspirators could profit. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are focused on holding offenders accountable who rip off our senior citizens,” said Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Charlotte.
Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Field Office, investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam F. Hulbig is prosecuting the case.
Related court documents and information are located on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:21-CR-27-BO.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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