A federal grand jury in Atlanta has charged seven Nigerian nationals for their involvement in a scheme that leveraged fake online dating profiles to con victims out of $1.5 million, the Department of Justice reports. Five of the seven have been arrested, and two remain at large.
The defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly created phony dating profiles and would spend weeks building relationships with their targets before defrauding them. After establishing trust, the con artists would tell elaborate stories to convince victims to send them money; for example, they claimed to be working overseas and needed money to travel back to the United States. Their targets were often vulnerable and wealthy, and their funds were sent to bank accounts controlled by the attackers.
Defendants have been charged with 60 counts of wire fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and use of fake passports. The US Capitol Police and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division are investigating the case.
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