PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A graduate student at Brown University was arraigned in District Court Thursday morning after he was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses in a scheme that allegedly targeted an elderly Florida woman.
Shishuai Li, 25, was arrested by Providence police after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed the city that it was investigating a 74-year-old Orlando woman’s claim she wired a man she met online $30,000 to build a school for underprivileged children in Dubai. Federal investigators say the funds ended up in Li’s bank account.
The woman said she thought she was sending the money to a man she met on an online dating site, according to a police report. The man identified himself as “Luiz” and told her he was in his 60s, the report states.
Homeland Security launched its probe into Li in November after a financial investigations team at Bank of America contacted the agency about a bank account tied to Li that “displayed a pattern of out of state deposits and wires,” according to a police report. The account has received approximately $181,000 in deposits since August.
The bank froze LI’s account in November. When he contacted a bank employee, he claimed the deposits were arranged by a friend who was lending him money, according to the police report. He said the friend lived outside of the country. He also told the bank he used the money to pay rent and tuition.
Brian Clark, a spokesperson for Brown University, said the school learned about the arrest Wednesday. The said the university will “review the incident in the context of university policies and determine what interim measures may be required as a more complete understanding of the circumstances becomes clear.”