Facing Criminal Charges for Dating Scams in Illinois

A Schaumburg woman was devastated after her husband of 35 years died of lung cancer. Her three adult children have already started their own busy lives. Her husband left her a moderate life insurance policy, and she is able to pay off her mortgage and live comfortably, doing some travel from time-to-time.

After two years, she decides to start online dating. She joins a well-known dating site and sets up a profile. She immediately gets a notification from a man from California. The man begins messaging her almost non-stop. Eventually, he asks her for money so he can travel to meet her.

Two Chicago-Area Defendants Have Been Charged With Online Romance Fraud

Sadly, this scenario plays out all too frequently on internet dating sites, even well-known and reputable ones. Federal law enforcement officers have been investigating cyber fraud related to dating scams. Two Nigerian citizens were recently arrested in the Chicago suburbs on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The criminal complaint alleges that the defendants engaged in several internet-based fraud schemes, including a dating fraud scheme, an inheritance scheme, and a scheme involving “business email compromise.” Their schemes resulted in a total victim loss of over $750,000.

These defendants allegedly targeted corporate email accounts through intrusion techniques. They then engaged in correspondence with the owners of those accounts to send them money. By building a rapport and relationship with the victims, they were attempting to develop enough trust to convince the victims to send them money. These individuals did not just engage in dating scams, but inheritance fraud scams as well.

The defendants went so far as to create fictional businesses. They also opened multiple bank accounts in the names of those fictitious businesses in order to launder money received from the victims. Law enforcement officers searched one of the defendant’s residences and found multiple digital devices with evidence pointing to the online romance fraud and inheritance fraud.

The Penalties for Wire Fraud

The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud are serious. If convicted, the defendants will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison under mandatory sentencing guidelines. Depending on the circumstances of the case, defendants could face 20 years in jail. The FBI has started a campaign to warn people about romance scams, and the agency is ramping up efforts to discover those behind romance scams and bring federal charges against them. They have established an Internet Crime Complaint Center through which victims of romance scams can file a complaint with the FBI.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing any type of federal criminal charge, including mail fraud charges, you need to contact an attorney soon. When you need an attorney, experience matters. The lawyers at Glasgow & Olsson have the required experience to represent you skillfully throughout the criminal process. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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