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In North Texas, a man was found guilty of 20 years of sending money to Nigeria through "sweetheart scams"


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    (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
    (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)(Elise Amendola / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

    A 43-year-old man was sentenced in Tarrant County last week to 20 years in prison after targeting elderly people across the country in sweetheart scams.

    Ifeanyichukwu Festus Obi, a known member of the “Yahoo Boys” gang in Nigeria, sent $1.32 million in stolen money to Africa during a two-month span in 2019, according to the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s office. He was convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity and theft of property of more than $300,000.

    The “Yahoo Boys” is a group of scammers in Nigeria who use different techniques to steal money, including internet phishing and sending fraudulent messages over social media, according to a U.S. News and World Report article.

    Obi, of Grand Prairie, was connected to callers in Nigeria who scam elderly people into sending money to their online love interest, the DA’s office said. Although investigators were only able to make contact with five of Obi’s victims, the office said there were likely hundreds of other victims.

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    The DA’s office said the “Yahoo Boys” use fake profiles to routinely target widows and widowers on social media and dating websites. The scammers message the victims, make romantic overtures, and eventually exploit the victims into giving them money.

    Tarrant County woman gets 85 years for swindling elderly out of $1.6M in 'sweetheart' scams

    His arrest came after a 17-month investigation by a task force including the Colleyville Police Department, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspector.

    Three other people were indicted in the case, including:

    • Saheed Akinyemi, 33, of Haslet, on engaging in organized criminal activity and theft of property between $30,000 and $150,000.
    • Olusegun Odunwole, 35, of Fort Worth, on engaging in organized criminal activity and theft of property between $2,500 and $30,000.
    • Obianuju Orakposim, 43, of Arlington, on engaging in organized criminal activity and theft of property between $300,000 and $1 million.

    “This sentence sends a clear message. Tarrant County is not the place to bring your criminal enterprises,” Tarrant DA Phil Sorrells said in a news release.

    Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller said in the release he is proud that the victims have gotten justice.

    “A sentence this significant for a financial crime sends a message that Tarrant County will not tolerate those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens,” Miller. “Today, justice was served.”

    Lana Ferguson

    Lana Ferguson, Breaking News Reporter. Lana Ferguson joined The Dallas Morning News after reporting in South Carolina's Lowcountry for The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette newspapers. She graduated from the University of Mississippi where she studied journalism and Southern studies. She's a Virginia native but her work has taken her all over the U.S., southern Africa, and Sri Lanka.

    [email protected] /LanaFergusonJournalist @thelanabanana

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