PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Cindy McBride, known as Rally Sally at Arizona Diamondbacks games, got some news from 3 On Your Side that she wasn’t expecting. “You’re making me cry right now. I am so happy,” she told 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper. She’s happy because a man named Fola Alabi was arrested in Texas by Federal law enforcement officers.
According to this criminal complaint, Alabi used Facebook to contact lonely senior citizens and then duped the women using what’s known as the “romance scam.” One victim listed in the complaint is a 70-year-old woman from Prescott Valley. She told investigators that she wound up sending Alabi $334,000 to his home in Texas after beginning a romantic online relationship with him. The complaint goes on to say, “She also admitted that she has lost over $925,000 to include selling her home, RV and jewelry to support this scam.”
McBride is not listed in the report as a victim because she never filed a complaint with the federal authorities. However, she tells 3 On Your Side that she was defrauded out of more than $200,000 in the identical scam. “By the time it was all said and done, it was more like $225,000 I lost,” she said.
Six months ago, McBride showed 3 On Your Side how she placed large amounts of cash inside books and then mailed them to the scammer posing as a legitimate and reputable U.S. military general stationed overseas. She even took these pictures of the cash. “That was one of the payments I sent him,” she said as she showed 3 On Your Side a picture of $100,000 stuffed inside a book. “If you count, there are 10 stacks of $10,000.”
And in the criminal complaint, that’s what Alabi allegedly did to his victims. He posed as “Gen. Miller, Gen. Welsh, Gen. Berrier, Gen. Goddard.” And they all claimed to be overseas and needed financial assistance.
McBride says it sounds all too familiar. And although Alabi may not be the individual who scammed her, she still knows how his victims feel. “If nothing else, if they have him arrested and put him in prison for what he has done, then that in itself gives me hope that there is finality. At least something final even if it doesn’t help me,” she said
Alabi is currently charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and other charges. The FBI warns people on how to spot a romance scam by clicking/tapping here.
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