February 24, 2024

This May 4, 2021, photo shows a sign outside the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice building in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Federal attorneys are looking for people who may have been scammed in a nationwide internet fraud scheme that operated for several years and had ties to West Michigan.

In December, four people were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud: Fatai Okunola, 37, of Kalamazoo, Oluwaseyi Adeola, 33, Ijeoma Adeola, 35, and Cory McDougal, 32.

A federal indictment alleges the defendants conspired with people in Nigeria to scam people in the United States, many elderly or vulnerable. The partners in Nigeria used fake personas to develop relationships over the internet, by social media, text or phone. They then asked for money for a variety of reasons.

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They told the victims to send the money to numerous bank accounts in West Michigan or P.O. boxes maintained under alias names or shall businesses. They transferred the money to each other and their partners in Nigeria, officials said.

The suspects received over $2 million dollars in their accounts from the scam between 2017 and 2022, according to the indictment.

Now, federal attorneys are looking for others who may have been scammed by this group. The following Post Office Boxes, emails, business names and false personas were used in the scheme:

False personas:

  • Robert Johnson
  • John Stevenson
  • Gaurav Dewan
  • Akarsh Sahil
  • Koti Constance Malia
  • Timothy Jacob
  • Amanda Lynn Contreas
  • Tushar Khade
  • Brandon Johnson
  • Gaurav Gupta
  • Gaurav Santosh
  • James Mason
  • Luciano Rossi

If you think you may have been scammed by this group, visit the Department of Justice website or contact Breane Warner, Victim Assistance Specialist at 616.808.2064.

To protect yourself from similar internet or email scams, federal law enforcement recommends being cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails and mailings, not giving sensitive information like date of birth account numbers, passwords, credit or debit card numbers or money to unverified people or businesses. Resist the false sense of urgency scammers create to lure people into action. If you realize it’s a scam attempt, end all communication with the perpetrator.

Authorities initially said Oluwaseyi Adeola and Ijeoma Adeola had been living near Battle Creek and Cory McDougal had been living in the Kalamazoo area. On Wednesday, they identified the Adeolas as from being from Dallas, Texas, and McDougal of Romeoville, Illinois.

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