Online Romance Fraud Charges for Three Chicago-Area Residents
A variety of cyber-enabled fraud conspiracies have been identified by an undercover federal law enforcement investigation. The conspiracies were allegedly carried out by two Nigerian nationals and a U.S. citizen residing in the Chicago suburbs. One of the alleged schemes involved “romance scams.” In the romance scams, the conspirator builds trust with a victim before convincing the victim to send money to a predetermined recipient.
Communications were carried out with the victims throughout the United States via social media and dating websites, including Match.com and OKCupid.com. The charges allege that the conspirators also engaged in other cyber-enabled frauds. The frauds included a “business email compromise” scheme and an inheritance fraud. The complaint states that the alleged scams resulted in a loss to victims of at least $750,000.
46-year old Samuel Aniukwu, a Nigerian national residing in Romeoville, 55-year old Anthony Emeka Ibekie, a Nigerian national residing in Oswego, and 48-year old Jennifer Gosha, a U.S. citizen residing in Oak Park. Last week, all the defendants were arrested. Aniukwu is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing today at 2:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox.
On July 24, 2020, at 9:30 a.m., Ibekie is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing before Judge Cox. Gosha has been released on bond. John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago; William Hedrick, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; and Robert Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney announced the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Saurish Appleby-Bhattacharjee and Paige Nutini. The complaint states that the conspirators, in the business email compromise scheme, allegedly defrauded victims by targeting corporate email accounts via computer intrusion techniques.