- One victim sold her house, emptied her retirement account to send money to the scammers
- Macpherson Osemwegie will plead guilty to a single count of wire and bank fraud
- Osakpamwan Omoruyi and Osaretin Omoruyi are charged with six counts related to the scams
BOSTON – A federal grand jury indicted two Canton men for what authorities say was a series of illegal online activities including romance scams, fraudulent unemployment claims and fake federal disaster loans. A third man involved in the case has signed a plea deal.
This month, the grand jury indicted Osakpamwan Omoruyi, 36, and Osaretin Omoruyi, 34, both of Canton, on one count each of bank and wire fraud conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. Both men are Nigerian nationals.
A day later, federal prosecutors filed charges against Macpherson Osemwegie, 32, of Hyde Park. He has signed a plea deal for a single count of bank and wire fraud.
More:Read the the FBI’s investigation into the men charged
Although Osemwegie is not named as a co-conspirator in the indictment against the Omoruyis, they are named as co-conspirators in his charging documents. All three men were initially charged in federal magistrate court, each with one count of bank and wire fraud conspiracy.
Osemwegie’s plea agreement does not say whether he has agreed to be a witness against the Omoruyis or if he is cooperating with prosecutors.
Osemwegie is charged with stealing from three victims, all through romance scams.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Bloom said in the plea deal that she would agree to argue for a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines. Osemwegie also agreed to forfeit $690,000.
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No dates have been set for formally entering his plea or a sentencing hearing. Osemwegie faces a maximum sentence of 30 years on the single charge.
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The Omoruyis were arraigned on their charges Monday morning.
They were charged with stealing from 12 victims, including seven romance scams, four unemployment scams and one fraudulent Small Business Administration disaster loan.
In all the alleged scams, an unnamed “conspirator” was responsible for contacting the victims and maintaining fake relationships with them before persuading them to send money, which Osemwegie or the Omoruyis then transferred between accounts, sending much of it to Nigeria, according to court documents.
A 68-year-old woman in Virginia Beach, Virginia, thought she was talking to a U.S. Army officer who was stationed overseas and needed money for his daughter’s education, travel and medical expenses. The woman sold her house and depleted her retirement savings to provide the money to the non-existent man, according to court documents.
Another victim, a 62-year-old woman in Idaho Falls, Idaho, told FBI agents that her husband died in an accident in 2009 and she received a life insurance payout of $1 million. In 2014, she started sending a total of $500,000 to people she met on social media and dating websites, including $71,200 to the three men charged, FBI Agent Michael Livingood said in an affidavit for a search warrant.
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A 65-year-old woman in Louisville, Kentucky, received a Facebook friend request from a man who claimed to be serving in Iraq with the Army and began a fake romantic relationship with her. She sent him at least $30,000 to get him out of the military, according to court documents.
In another case, an unnamed conspirator submitted a $47,200 fraudulent Small Business Administration disaster loan application in the name of a person living in Dehli, Iowa.
The indictment does not list how much money prosecutors say the Omoruyis scammed from women and the government, but a review of the indictment shows losses of at least $289,000.
Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at firstname.lastname@example.org.