GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The federal government is working to identify victims of a nationwide internet fraud scheme that operated for several years and defrauded victims of more than $2 million.
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten made the announcement Wednesday.
A grand jury recently indicted four people, charging them with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud related to the fraud scheme.
Those facing charges are 37-year-old Fatai Okunola of Kalamazoo, 33-year-old Oluwaseyi Adeola and 35-year-old Ijeoma Adeola of Dallas, Texas, along with 32-year-old Cory McDougal of Romeoville, Illinois.
Oluwaseyi Adeola and Okunola also face charges related to their naturalization or attempt to naturalize as U.S. citizens.
The defendants conspired with others, primarily in Nigeria, to defraud people in the United States, many of whom were elderly or particularly vulnerable, according to allegations in the indictment.
The indictment claims they defrauded people through a variety of fraud schemes using interstate wire transmissions or the mail system.
Conspirators in Nigeria created fake online personas to develop relationships with their victims over the internet, through social media, text messages or phone calls.
Totten’s office says the relationships centered around romantic interests, offers to buy or sell goods or services, apartment rentals or offers to make loans or provide grant funding, among other schemes.
Conspirators are accused of sending pictures or other information to the victims to make the schemes seem real.
When the conspirators used phone calls, they used voice-over-internet protocol numbers to make it seem like the calls were from the United States, specifically, near the victims.
Once a relationship was developed, the conspirators asked for money.
The defendants allegedly opened numerous bank accounts in the Western District of Michigan and other places to receive the victims’ money, once they agreed to pay.
Sometimes, the defendants received the victims’ money in post office boxes maintained under alias names or through payments made payable to “shell” businesses that the defendants created to receive fraud proceeds, according to the indictment.
The victims sent money through the mail, bank-to-bank transfers and through peer-to-peer money transfer services like Zelle or PayPal.
From there, the defendants allegedly transferred the money to each other, to conspirators overseas and to their own bank accounts in Nigeria.
The indictment claims defendants received more than $2 million in their accounts between 2017 and 2022.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the investigative agencies are working to identify other people, nationwide, who may have been victimized by the same fraud conspiracy.
It says defendants used the following Post Office Boxes, emails, business names and false personas to carry out the scheme:
Post Office Boxes:
- P.O. Box 19216, Kalamazoo, MI 49019
- P.O. Box 2115, Kalamazoo, MI 49003
- Shyon’s Auto
- Fatjas Import & Export
- Lola Adeola Jeweleries
- Choices Auto
- CJ’s Shoe Rejuvination
- 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 believe you are a victim in this case, click here or contact Victim Assistance Specialist Breane Warner at 616-808-2064.
READ MORE: Kalamazoo resident among 4 charged for $2M international fraud conspiracy
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