A Bostonian man has been found guilty of participating in an online romance scam that targeted elderly victims, in some cases robbing them of their life savings.
Macpherson Osemwegie, 32, was sentenced to 32 months in prison by a federal court in Boston and ordered to pay back $686,000 from his ill-gotten gains.
Osemwegie, who pleaded guilty to wire and banking fraud, participated in the illicit scheme, in which “romance scammers” used fake internet personas to lure victims.
“Osemwegie agreed with others to participate in a series of romance and other online scams designed to trick victims into sending money to accounts that Osemwegie and others controlled,” said the US Department of Justice, announcing the verdict and sentencing.
Between 2017 and 2020, Osemwegie and his accomplices stole almost $690,000 from around a hundred victims, “many of whom were elderly and, in some instances, were deprived of their life savings.”
It added: “Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and steal from the victim.”
Osemwegie’s role in the internet-based con was to open back accounts using stolen or forged passports. He did this at least 16 times across seven banks, using four fraudulent travel documents to conceal his true identity.
He was brought to justice by the FBI, the US postal inspection service, and the US Attorney for Massachusetts’ financial and cyber fraud unit, who all contributed to the investigation.
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