Boston

Boston man sentenced for opening bank accounts used by online romance scammers

One of the victims was a 70-year-old San Antonio woman who was defrauded out of $720,000 by someone who purported to be a U.S. Army soldier in Syria, according to court documents

A court gavel
Getty Images

A Boston man who opened multiple bank accounts that were used by others to deposit money embezzled from victims of online romance scams, including one woman who was cheated out of $720,000, was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison.

Mike Oziegbe Amiegbe, 45, was also sentenced to three months of home confinement, three years of probation and was ordered to pay nearly $830,000 in forfeiture and restitution to victims, according to federal prosecutors.

STAY IN THE KNOW

icon

Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.

icon

Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

Amiegbe from 2017 through 2020 used at least nine aliases and fake passports to open accounts at multiple banks in the Boston area, according to court documents. Those accounts were used by the scammers to deposit the victims' money.

Amiegbe then quickly accessed those accounts and either withdrew the fraud proceeds in cash from ATMs or with a cashier’s check, prosecutors said. The money was sent to others overseas. On some occasions he was seen on bank surveillance video conducting those transactions, according to court documents.

It's not just The Tinder Swindler. $547 million was lost to romance scams in 2021, up 80% from the prior year. Unfortunately, dating apps can't guarantee that the person you're messaging has your best interests in mind. So we talked to sex and relationships researcher Justin Lehmiller for tips on protecting yourself from scams when you're looking for love.

One of the victims was a 70-year-old San Antonio woman who was defrauded out of $720,000 by someone who purported to be a U.S. Army soldier in Syria, according to court documents. The scammer contacted the victim through social media and gradually earned her affection and trust, convincing her that they were in a romantic relationship even though they'd never met or spoken on the phone.

That person told the victim that he had come into millions of dollars while working in Iraq, and asked her to send him money so that he could access it.

Some of that victim's money was sent to accounts opened by Amiegbe, prosecutors said.

In February 2022, he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us