A South Jersey man who allegedly helped scam dozens of people out of millions of dollars in an online-dating scheme was arrested Wednesday, federal authorities said.
Rubbin Sarpong, 35, of Millville, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He’s accused of receiving funds from victims and transferring the money to co-conspirators in Ghana.
One of the victims died by suicide after wiring more than $93,000, according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Camden.
Sarpong and his co-conspirators set up online dating profiles using fake or stolen identities of U.S. soldiers stationed overseas, federal authorities said. After “wooing them with words of love,” the scammers asked victims to wire them money, often saying they needed funds to ship gold bars recovered in Syria.
An attorney for Sarpong did not return a request for comment.
Investigators said they’ve identified more than 30 victims who collectively lost $2.1 million in the scheme. The victims met the scammers on sites such as Plenty of Fish, Ourtime.com, and Match.com.
One of the victims believed she was talking to a U.S. soldier serving in Syria who was awarded a box of gold bars worth more than $12 million, the complaint says. The scammers convinced her to wire $93,710, ostensibly to pay for shipping the gold to the United States. She was told her money would be returned once the gold arrived.
The scammer allegedly put her in touch with a co-conspirator posing as a diplomat working to get the gold to the U.S. In June 2018, the victim told her daughter that she was meeting the diplomat with the gold at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. She died by suicide the next day, authorities said.
Of the $93,710 the victim lost, $74,810 was sent to a bank account controlled by Sarpong, the complaint said.
In total, Sarpong alone allegedly received more than $823,000 of the victim funds and transferred roughly $454,000 to co-conspirators.
The complaint says Sarpong worked with three uncharged co-conspirators, two of whom live in Ghana. Sarpong was born in Ghana and is a legal U.S. resident.
He posted photos on social media bragging about the money he was making, posing with wads of cash and expensive cars, the complaint said.