A 32-year-old man from Brooklyn, New York, has been sentenced to nearly 6 years in federal prison for laundering almost $1 million stolen from victims of romance scams and email scams, including a Pasadena resident, the United States Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Referred to as the “kingpin” of the group of swindlers and the “personification of evil” by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Okechukwu Nwofor pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering on Feb. 21.
“Nwofor admitted to leading a money laundering conspiracy from at least July 2018 to August 2019. Nwofor used a network of individuals who received fraudulent proceeds obtained from the victims of romance and business email compromise scams. Once the illicitly obtained funds were received, Nwofor and his co-conspirators quickly withdrew or transferred into accounts they controlled,” a news release from the USAO’s Central District of California stated.
The 32-year-old used several bank accounts in his name, as well as an account under a New York-based business he founded, Juboy New Generation Inc., to launder money stolen by his co-conspirators in the romance and email scams.
In Sept. 2018, a Pasadena resident who fell victim to the romance scam sent around $19,000 to a bank account in New York controlled by an accomplice of Nwofor. Over a period of three days, Nwofor directed his co-conspirator to wire an estimated $16,140 of the victim’s money to a bank account he controlled, prosecutors said.
In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors argued that Nwofor and his accomplices’ conduct have left many of their victims in “dire straits,” including a woman who was no longer able to care for her disabled son, the foreclosure of another victim’s home and, tragically, one victim who took her own life after falling prey to the scam.
The total losses for victims of the romance and business email scams came to more than $930,000.
“Four other defendants in this case admitted their roles as money mules and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Three of them received probationary sentences and one awaits sentencing,” the release noted.