ST. LOUIS — A Texas man admitted Monday to targeting a St. Louis woman in a $1.2 million romance scam.
According to a press release, 37-year-old Rotimi Oladimeji pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Oladimeji admitted that in May of 2019, someone in Nigeria created a fake LinkedIn profile of a veterinarian and animal behaviorist who was allegedly a Belgian national living in St. Louis, according to the release. They also used a picture of a German man.
In August of that year, a St. Louis woman made an online dating profile. Then, Oladimeji and others started contacting her, using the Belgian identity in the following months.
The perpetrators of the fraud made plans to meet the victim, but never followed through, such as on one occasion when they left her waiting at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Oladimeji then told the victim that the Belgian man was taking a business trip to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, according to the release.
One day after his alleged arrival, Oladimeji texted the victim, claiming that he needed help with “an urgent business issue,” and asked for $15,000, the plea said.
This request started a pattern of texts requesting electronic transfers of cash from the victim between October 2019 and March of 2020.
In total, the victim sent or attempted to send $931,000 to the scammers in a mistaken belief that the Belgian would not be permitted to leave Dubai unless she paid, the plea said.
Oladimeji also had the victim send cash and cashier’s checks via FedEx to the Texas home of his co-defendant, Olumide Akrinmade, 37, of Richardson, Texas, his plea said.
Oladimeji admitted recruiting Akrinmade and Adewale Adesanya, another Texas resident, to receive the funds, the plea said, in exchange for a cut of the money.
The victim sent about $314,000 to Texas, the plea said. Oladimeji admitted to taking part of the money for his role in the scam. The majority went to other scammers in Nigeria and the U.S., the plea said.
The scam began to unravel on February 3, 2021, when Oladimeji returned to the U.S. from a trip to Nigeria, according to the release. When he landed in Atlanta, Homeland Security Investigations agents inspected two phones belonging to Oladimeji and discovered text messages from and to his victim.
Each count to which Oladimeji pleaded guilty carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.
Oladimeji is scheduled to be sentenced on March 23.
He will also be ordered to repay the money and could face deportation.
Akrinmade’s case is pending. He has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud, according to a release.
Adesanya pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Dallas in April and was sentenced in September to four years in prison.
He was also ordered to repay $1.5 million that resulted from various frauds.
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