US authorities have charged 10 Nigerians for allegedly conspiring to launder illegal proceeds that were fraudulently obtained through romance scams.
US Justice Department said on Wednesday night that the arrests were made following indictment by a federal grand jury in October.
Those facing charges are Paul Usoro, 25, (resident in Norman, Oklahoma); Afeez Adebara, 34, (Norman, Oklahoma); Oluwaseun Ogundele, 30, (Norman, Oklahoma, and Brooklyn, New York); Joshua Ditep, 25, (Norman, Oklahoma).
Others are Chibuzo Obiefuna Jr, 26, (Norman, Oklahoma, and Long Beach, California); Jamiu Adedeji, 23, (Norman, Oklahoma); and Tobiloba Kehinde, 27, (Norman Oklahoma).
Three others with addresses in New York and Dallas Texas are yet to be fully identified. They are said to be at large.
The victims of the romance scams were defrauded a total of nearly $1.1 million, including one who sent cash and goods worth $546,000.
The indictment alleges that since 2017, the co-conspirators concealed the proceeds of romance scam operations by moving money between and among multiple bank accounts that were opened using fraudulent identity documents to obscure the source of the funds and the identities of the co-conspirators.
It also alleges the co-conspirators coordinated with unknown individuals overseas who had assumed false identities on online dating websites and social media platforms with the intent to defraud victims.
The suspects were said to have opened accounts under various aliases in order to obscure the source of the fraudulently obtained funds.
In a further attempt to conceal the source of the money, the co-conspirators allegedly purchased salvaged vehicles and car parts to export overseas, usually to Nigeria.