Crime & Courts

‘Romance scams’ and other frauds in Kansas sent over $1M to Africa, feds say

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Federal prosecutors say five men collected about $1.8 million through scams in Kansas and sent the majority of it to Africa.

The men, four of whom are from Wichita with the other from Nigeria, were indicted in federal court in Wichita after an international fraud investigation, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Tuesday in a news release. They are among hundreds of defendants charged after the probe.

The Kansas defendants include King Bassey Essien, 26; Franklin Ogochukwu Okapu, 20; Oluwatimileyin Aloaye Frederick Diyaolu, 21; Emmanuel Oluwaseun Daramola, 22; all of Wichita, and Abasiakara Ime Ekanem, 22, of Nigeria. They are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Federal prosecutors allege that the men defrauded victims in the United States and foreign countries. The scams were designed to cause victims to transfer money to bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters, who then sent some of the money to Nigeria and Ghana.

“The investigation targeted many kinds of scams including, so-called romance scams that obtain money from victims by claiming their loved ones need funds, and investment scams that seek money from victims seeking business opportunities,” McAllister said.

Together, the five men sent more than $1 million to people in Nigeria and withdrew cash for themselves.

The indictment alleges Essien collected nearly $400,000 through cash deposits and international and domestic wire transfers. Attorneys said Okapu collected more than $337,000, Diyaolu received more than $572,000, Daramola collected more than $283,000 and Ekanem received more than $208,000. The alleged crimes took place between August 2015 and January 2019.

If convicted, each man faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

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