A Texas man posing as a high-ranking military man has pleaded guilty to participating in a scam in which women across the country were swindled out of approximately $1.6 million. by someone who showed romantic interest in her and was posing as an army general.
The women, often in their 70s and 80s and widowed or divorced, were persuaded to send cash or checks to addresses and companies controlled by Fola Alabialso known as Folayemi Alabi, 52, who lived in Richmond, Texas.
Last week, Alabi declared guilty of conspiracy and money laundering before federal district court in Rhode Island, the US attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.
According to prosecutors, a person posing as a general sent abroad made friends online with women and, little by little, he gained her trust by feigning romantic or personal interest.
According to prosecutors, the money was deposited in bank accounts he also controlled, before being quickly withdrawn or transferred. Federal agents who searched Alabi’s cellphone found photographs and videos of packages containing cash and checks they had received from some victims, prosecutors said.
The victims were from Rhode Island, Tennessee, North Carolina, California, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Idaho, and South Dakotaaccording to the authorities.
An Arizona woman lost $334,000, according to an affidavit filed in the case. She felt “shame, embarrassment and guilt for having been cheated” and, as a result, she stated, she did not have enough money to eat or pay the bills, according to the juror.
A Rhode Island woman sent a check for $60,000 and was going to send another $240,000, but her bank discovered she might be a victim of fraud, blocked her account and contacted local police, according to authorities.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 25.