KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Oyindamola Akinrinola, 23, of Lawrence, Kansas, has pleaded guilty in federal court for her role in Nigerian fraud schemes that targeted victims across the United States.
“Akinrinola and her co-conspirator in Nigeria victimized individuals, several elderly, through a variety of online scams,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister. “She now faces time in federal prison for her crimes. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of fraud schemes like these, no matter where they originate. I also take this conviction as an opportunity to reiterate to all Kansans the vulnerability of our senior citizens to scams and con artists, who prey upon them. We must all be vigilant to protect our parents, grandparents, elderly relatives, friends and neighbors from such frauds and fraudsters.”
“Scams such as lottery, online dating, and impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees continue to be a major threat to taxpayers, especially senior citizens,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Scammers will use a variety of techniques to cheat taxpayers. TIGTA will do everything within its power to ensure that those involved in the impersonation of IRS employees are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We appreciate the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice in this effort.”
According to U.S. Attorney McAllister, the charges, and other information presented in court: Akinrinola, a Nigerian national who was granted legal permanent residency in the United States in 2018, was part of a scheme to defraud U.S.-based victims out of money and property. Akinrinola’s co-conspirator in Nigeria orchestrated several scams, such as tricking victims into believing they were eligible for fictitious awards or establishing purported (but false) romantic relationships with victims and exploiting their affections.
The co-conspirator in Nigeria directed victims to send money to Akinrinola. While in Kansas as a college student, she received funds from the scam victims—in amounts ranging from hundreds of dollars to as much $20,000—via wire transfers, money orders, financial applications, Wal-Mart money grams, Western Union, the United States Postal Service, and various other means. Akinrinola kept a portion for herself as her reward and sent the bulk of the funds to her co-conspirator in Nigeria. To do so, she generally used the Sendwave, WorldRemit, or Boss Revolution mobile applications.
The following are just a few examples of the scams Akinrinola and her co-conspirator perpetrated:
- Victims 1 and 2 received Facebook messages from an individual who purported to be with FedEx. They were told they won a $130,000 grant and that FedEx would deliver the cash after Victim 2 paid a “case file fee.” Victim 2 then deposited $2,500 cash into a Bank of America account for the fee. Victim 2 was then told she needed to pay another $1,000 for a “winning certificate.” Because Victims 1 and 2 did not have $1,000, they allowed the purported Facebook account holder to purchase three iPhones through their Verizon account. Victims 1 and 2 were instructed to mail the iPhones to Akinrinola (in Kansas). Victim 2 then received an image from the Facebook account claiming to be from the IRS and requesting $15,000 before release of the grant funds.
- Victim 3 was the victim of an online dating scam and lost approximately $8,000, of which he sent $900 to Akinrinola via a kiosk at a Walgreens store.
- Victim 4 also was the victim of an online dating scam. Victim 4 lost approximately $3,815, and he sent $710 to Akinrinola. Victim 4 believed the money was for musical instruments for children in Nigeria.
- Victim 5 was the victim of a Facebook scam. A man on Facebook, known to Victim 5 as “Steven,” told Victim 5 that he was in the military and needed money, and Victim 5 sent $1,000 to Akinrinola in this scam.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 15, 2021 at 9:00 am, before U.S. District Judge Holly L. Teeter.
This case is being investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan J. Huschka is prosecuting the case.
The Justice Department’s extensive efforts to combat elder fraud seek to halt the billions of dollars our beloved but sometimes vulnerable senior citizens lose to fraud schemes. DOJ prosecutes the criminal fraudsters to the full extent of the law when it can catch them. But such prosecutions arise only after the fraud has occurred, and it is far better that we protect our senior citizens from these harms in the first place. Prevention is better than punishment. Prevention works when we all educate ourselves and share information about the various types of elder fraud schemes that are being perpetrated. We must inform our relatives, friends, neighbors, and other seniors, who then can use that information to protect themselves.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311 or 833–FRAUD–11). This hotline, managed by the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed daily from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available. For more information, please visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.