Texas man pleads guilty to bilking seniors in online romance scam, including Rhode Island widow | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european

A Texas man pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence to his role in online romance scams that targeted and scammed seniors out of $1.6 million in at least 11 states, including a Rhode Island widow who gave him $60,000 of her money, according to U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha.

Fola Alabi, aka Folayemi Alabi, 52, of Richmond, Texas, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and money laundering, and admitted to a federal judge that he created companies and opened bank accounts that were used to launder more than $1.6 million in proceeds bilked from seniors nationwide, Cunha said in a statement Monday.

Alabi, as a member of the conspiracy, befriended unsuspecting seniors online, often posing as a General in the U.S. military serving overseas, Cunha said. He feigned a personal, and sometimes romantic, interest in his victims, and convinced them to send substantial sums of money, usually in the form of bank checks or cash, to addresses and companies in Texas that were controlled by Alabi.

Alabi subsequently deposited or directed that it be deposited into one of several bank accounts that he controlled, Cunha said. He then quickly withdrew or transferred the funds to other accounts.

Among Alabi’s victims is a Rhode Island widow, who was contacted under false claims by a “General Miller,” purportedly a four-star General, who convinced her to provide $60,000 to finance shipment of his personal belongings to the U.S. At the scammer’s direction, a check was made payable to Full Circle Import Exports, a company created by Alabi, and mailed to Alabi’s residence in Texas.

The victim was prepared to send an additional significant sum of money to the scammer claiming to be “General Miller,” when it was determined by her bank and the Westerly Police Department that she was likely the victim of fraud, Cunha said.

According to court documents, in a cellphone seized from Alabi at the time of his arrest in May 2022, federal agents discovered photographs and videos of packages containing cash and checks received by Alabi from victims of the scam.

According to a plea agreement, the loss from the romance scams totaled $1,640,421. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Alabi will forfeit assets derived from his criminal conduct, to include his Texas residence and $31,773.22 contained in a bank account.

Alabi is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2023.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Inspection Service, FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.

The Westerly, Rhode Island, and Prescott Valley, Arizona police departments, Texas Department of Public Safety, West Virginia State Police, the Santa Clara, California County District Attorney’s Office, and Defense Criminal Investigative Service also assisted with the investigation.

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