A Nigerian national who lives in Indianapolis was sentenced on Friday to 51 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to a money laundering scheme and defrauding the elderly.
Ismaila Fafunmi pleaded guilty in August 2020, according to federal officials.
According to court records, Fafunmi was involved in a network of scammers using computers in Nigeria to prey on the elderly. They impersonated romantic companions eager to forge relationships on dating websites or offered fake federal grants to senior citizens.
For his part, Fafunmi admitted in his plea agreement that, beginning in June 2018, he and his co-conspirators would set up fake profiles on dating websites profiling American men, often military members. The purpose of the scams was to defraud U.S.-based victims.
If the victims sent money by bank deposit, Fafunmi and his co-conspirators would create bank accounts in various names to retrieve the fraudulent funds. Victims also sent money in the form of cash and postal money orders to addresses belonging to Fafunmi and his co-conspirators. Fafunmi and his co-conspirators would retain a portion of the victims’ funds, and then convert the remainder to wire transfers, to be sent back to co-conspirators in Nigeria.
Two victims of the scheme lived in Kentucky. One sent more than $200,000 in funds, gift cards, and electronic devices to a person she believed to be her boyfriend. Another sent over $170,000 for what she believed to be fees associated with a federal grant.
Fafunmi received portions of these funds, kept some of the money and sent the remainder abroad, according to federal officials.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. Under federal law, Fafunmi must serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence.