All claimed to be in a relationship with the women sent online and all were elaborate scams, according to court documents released Wednesday revealing the alleged tricks.
Prosecutors allege that a special assistant to the U.S. Marshal from maryland was part of a ring that defrauded seniors out of nearly $2 million in “romance scams” over several years.
Isidore Iwuagwu, 35, of Upper Marlboro, was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Maryland.
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Between October 2015 and July 2021, Iwuagwu was part of romance scams where individuals engaged in online relationships with more than 20 victims through social media platforms and dating sites and defrauded them of large sums of money. money, prosecutors alleged. The victims reported a combined loss of $1.9 million, according to an affidavit, and at least $585,180 was related to accounts belonging to Iwuagwu.
In many cases, victims said they were defrauded by individuals claiming to be deployed members of the US armed forces who needed money for personal hardship, prosecutors said. Prosecutors allege the money would then be transferred to accounts controlled by Iwuagwu or mailed to him in the form of money orders, personal checks, cashier’s checks or cash. In one case, an individual claimed to be a major general who needed money to help him leave the military and told the victim that Iwuagwu was his lawyer. The victim sent more than $300,000 to Iwuagwu, according to the affidavit.
“If you find yourself in an online relationship and you’re being asked for a lot of money, it’s probably fraud, not love,” said Erek L. Barron, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, in a press release.
Iwuagwu provides security for “critical Department of Justice facilities” as a special assistant U.S. marshal and contractor to the Department of Justice, according to the affidavit. He became a special assistant in 2018.
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U.S. Marshals Headquarters and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond for comment. It was not immediately clear if Iwuagwu had a lawyer. Attempts to contact him or his family members were not immediately successful.
According to the affidavit, another victim was scammed into transferring money to accounts belonging to Iwuagwu and sending money after someone pretended to be a Spanish doctor living in California on board. ‘a ship that said it had no access to a bank account. The person told the victim to send money to “a friend in the United States” with an account belonging to Iwuagwu, according to the affidavit. The person then sent the victim a photo of Iwuagwu government ID card when she expressed doubts about remittance. The victim sent approximately $51,880.
Law enforcement reviewed Iwuagwu’s iCloud data which revealed his alleged communications with co-conspirators discussing money received by the victims, according to the affidavit.
“Brother, the woman said she couldn’t transfer without the identity of who she wanted to deposit the money to,” a co-conspirator said in conversation, according to court documents.
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“Just give him an idea,” Iwuagwu replied, according to the affidavit alleging he was telling his co-conspirator to offer “any identification” to the victim.
Law enforcement also examined 30 accounts belonging to Iwuagwu between 2013 and 2021 that received $1.65 million in transfers from 119 people and $1.138 million in money order, check and cash deposits, they said. prosecutors said. According to the affidavit, Iwuagwu used the money he received to withdraw money from or wire money to foreign banks and businesses.
The victims, who were targeted through various forms of social media including Google Hangouts, Instagram and Twitter, came from all over the country, according to the affidavit.