Online romance scams have become more and more common in recent years, but few have cost their victims $6.5 million.
Calling it a "stark reminder" that those who frequent online dating websites should "exercise extreme caution if asked for money," U.S. Attorney BJay Pak announced this week the indictment of a Marietta man who is accused of swindling a Virginia woman out of a large part of her fortune.
Nnamdi Marcellus MgBodile is charged with 20 counts of bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, Pak said in a news release.
MgBodile is also accused of a business email compromise (BEC) scam in which he and others attempted to defraud a Georgia company out of nearly $350,000.
“Online romance scams and business email compromise frauds have increasingly become the method of choice for transnational fraudsters targeting U.S. residents and companies,” Pak said. “In this case, a single victim allegedly lost millions.”
Posing as a man named “Jimmy Deere,” MgBodile met the Virginia woman online in November 2017 and soon convinced her they were in a relationship, according to prosecutors. She communicated with him via email over the next month and they decided to move in together, but he told her he first had to resolve an “investment opportunity,” Pak said.
That allegedly turned out to be fictitious.
He’s accused of telling her he was a fund manager and was about to receive a large commission from a client. But he needed her to be his “representative partner” and have the funds deposited into her account to avoid a conflict of interest, the release said.
MgBodile then started asking her to pay fees and taxes so the funds could be released, Pak said. In January and February of 2018, the woman made about 25 wire transfers totaling more than $6.5 million from her trust into various bank accounts, the release said.
Officials say romance scams usually target vulnerable people who have significant financial assets, such as retired widows or widowers. The woman’s age was not released.
In the alleged BEC scam, the Georgia company was not specified. MgBodile is accused of participating in that scam in March of this year.
“This investigation and subsequent indictment demonstrates the commitment the Secret Service and our partners have in aggressively pursuing those who commit online fraud scams,” said Malcolm D. Wiley, Sr., acting special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Atlanta field office.
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