A New Jersey man scammed dozens of women out of more than $2 million by posing as a US service member — who was stationed overseas and looking for love on internet dating sites, according to federal prosecutors.
Rubbin Sarpong, 35, of Cumberland County, would allegedly “woo” his victims online and then convince them to send him money under the promise that he’d be sending back “gold bars” from the Middle East.
Using “myriad email accounts and Voice Over Internet protocol phone numbers,” prosecutors say Sarpong and a number of conspirators communicated with over 30 women and instructed them to wire him money.
“Between January 2016 and Sept. 3, 2019, Sarpong and his conspirators, several of whom reside in Ghana, allegedly participated in an online romance scheme, defrauding victims in New Jersey and elsewhere,” said Department of Justice officials in a press release Wednesday.
“Sarpong and the conspirators set up dating profiles on various dating websites, using fictitious or stolen identities and posing as United States military personnel who were stationed overseas,” the release said. “They contacted victims through the dating websites and then pretended to strike up a romantic relationship with them. After establishing virtual romantic relationships with victims on the online dating platforms and via email, the conspirators asked them for money, often for the purported purpose of paying to ship gold bars to the United States. Although the stories varied, most often Sarpong and the conspirators claimed to be military personnel stationed in Syria who received, recovered, or were awarded gold bars. The conspirators told many victims that their money would be returned once the gold bars were received in the United States.”
The women allegedly wired money to bank accounts held by Sarpong and his cohorts through US financial institutions.
“Occasionally, victims also mailed personal checks and/or cashier’s checks to the conspirators and also transferred money to the conspirators via money transfer services, such as Western Union and MoneyGram,” said DOJ officials. “The funds were not used for the purposes claimed by the conspirators — that is, to transport non-existent gold bars to the United States — but were instead withdrawn in cash, wired to other domestic bank accounts, and wired to other conspirators in Ghana.”
Sarpong, a Millville resident, was arrested Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He is accused of scamming his victims out of more than $2.1 million.
“Sarpong allegedly personally received $823,386 in victim funds into bank accounts that he owned or controlled,” officials said. “Sarpong posted photographs of himself on social media posing with large amounts of cash, high-end cars and expensive jewelry.”
Sarpong is facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if convicted. It’s unclear if he’s obtained the services of an attorney.
He was arrested Wednesday.
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