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Dallas romance scammer who conned lonely widows and divorcees sent to prison
A Dallas romance scammer who posted singles ads, then robbed his victims, is now where he belongs: in prison.
According to a release from the Department of Justice, Frederick Orji,, a 38-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Nigeria, was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison, for preying on elderly divorcees and widows.
Orji, who had ties to a Nigerian organized crime syndicate, was charged alongside several co-conspirators in a large-scale operation led by the FBI in in September 2021.
He pleaded guilty in June 2022 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and was sentenced on December 19 to 37 months in federal prison by Chief U.S. District Judge David Godbey, who also ordered him to pay $418,030 in restitution to his victims.
According to court documents, Orji and his co-defendants assumed fake names and trolled dating sites like Match.com and Bumbledate.com, searching for targets.
Once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they made up sob stories about why they needed money — i.e., taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc. — then siphoned money from their victims’ accounts, tens of thousands of dollars at a time.
Orji admitted in plea papers that, once he and his conspirators had fleeced their victims of all they had, often their entire life's savings, they'd vanish into thin air.
His brother and co-defendant Emanuel Orji, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in September 2022 and is set to be sentenced on January 9, 2023. Five additional defendants — David Animashaun, Oluwalobamise Michael Moses, Irabor Fatarr Musa, Ijeoma Okoro, and Chukwemeka Orji — are awaiting trial, set for March 20, 2023.
The FBI estimates that more than 20,000 people lost more than $600 million in romance scams in 2020 alone, and the Federal Trade Commission has an entire romance scam webpage, with tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The investigation was a team project led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Office, and IRS – Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Walters and Jenna Rudoff are prosecuting the case.