A 34-year-old Nigerian identified as Kingsley Otuya has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for fraud, money laundering and romance schemes worth more than $1 million in Austin, Texas.
On Tuesday, July 17th, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas revealed that one of Otuya’s victims killed herself after loosing hundreds of thousands of dollars and being “emotionally devastated” by the romance scam. Other victims faced severe financial challenges as a result of the schemes.
According to court documents, Otuya used an online dating profile to target at least one of the victims.
U.S. Attorney John F. Bash. said: “This case brutally illustrates how fraud schemes hurt victims not only financially but also emotionally. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to protect Americans from transnational criminal conspiracies.”
In April 2018, Otuya pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Officials reported that they started investigating Austin as part of a series of investigations into the activities of West African fraud schemes.
The U.S. attorney’s office stated that Otuya who acted as a “catcher” would quickly withdraw the funds from bank accounts where the victims had deposited the money, and would then send the money to his co-conspirators before the victims tried to recover their funds. Authorities said he used fake passports to open nine different bank accounts under false names in Austin and often withdrew $10,000 or less to avoid bank reporting requirements.
According to the court records, Otuya will likely be deported back to Nigeria following his prison term. He is to pay $966,000 and will be placed under supervision for three years after he is released.