PROVO, Utah — Dating these days is hard, it can be difficult to navigate the world of online dating. Here’s just one more thing to worry about – a romance scam.
In the world of online dating, if you get “catfished”, you often find yourself sitting across the table at a restaurant from someone who does not look like their profile pictures. People often post their most flattering pictures on dating profiles. Usually, it’ll be an old picture of them and their appearance looks very different compared to now.
Nelly Idowu, a 39-year-old woman from Provo, took catfishing to the next level. The money laundering level.
The romance scam
The Provo woman preyed on single women over the age of 65 looking for love. This romance scheme scammed victims out of over $6 million from 2017 to 2019.
Idowu would create fake online dating accounts to befriend and romance victims and then claim the fake personas had an urgent financial need. Some personas falsely claimed financial needs, such as emergency medical costs for family members, investment opportunities, or assisting stranded military members overseas.
Then, Idowu would send the majority of the money overseas to China or Nigeria.
On October 19, 2023, during her trial, Idowu was convicted of all charges. The charges were one count of money laundering conspiracy and two counts of money laundering. Her sentencing will be at the end of January at Salt Lake City’s Downtown District Courthouse.
The FBI reminds those in online dating to learn about romance scams on their website. Sandra Yi Barker with the FBI Salt Lake City division says their website offers tips for online dating scams. Barker said, “They can go on there and learn about romance scams and see all the tips for avoiding the scams and some of the red flags they should be looking for.”
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