A New Jersey couple is accused of scamming at least 33 people out of $6 million using online dating sites to find their victims. Martins Friday Inalegwu, 31, and Steincy Mathieu, 24, were both charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Inalegwu was taken into custody by Mathieu is still at large.
Federal prosecutors said the couple ran the scheme from October 2016 to May 2020, which involved several conspirators who live in Nigeria and Turkey. The couple found their victims using Match.com, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish.
After striking up a romantic relationship with their victims, the couple claimed they “needed money for customs fees and taxes, medical expenses, travel expenses, or business expenses.” The couple managed to convince 33 people to send them money. One victim embezzled $4 million from her company for the couple.
Another victim emptied out her savings, liquidated her retirement account, maxed out her credit cards, and took out a personal loan to pay the scammers. When that wasn’t enough, she borrowed money from family and friends to send them even more money.
The couple is also accused of running an apartment rental scam. They conned at least three people into sending them application fees and security deposits for an apartment they did not own.
Authorities believe there may be more victims and are scouring through bank records to track them down.
“Based on a review of bank records, additional victims with an additional $1.2 million in payments to subjects have been identified but not yet interviewed and confirmed,” the criminal complaint states.
If convicted, the couple faces up to 20 years in prison.
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