- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Three Nigerian nationals have been sentenced to prison for their roles in a large-scale international fraud network.

Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain in a news release Friday said 31-year-old Rasaq Aderoju Raheem was sentenced to 115 years in prison; 30-year-old Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan was sentenced to 95 years and 45-year-old Femi Alexander Mewase was sentenced to 25 years.

After a three-week trial earlier this year, a federal jury found each defendant guilty of offenses involving mail and wire fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud and theft of government property. Raheem and Ayelotan were also found guilty of conspiracies to commit bank fraud and money laundering.

A total of 21 defendants were charged in the case, 12 of whom have pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy, and 11 of whom have been sentenced to date.

According to the plea agreements and evidence at trial, the defendants and their co-conspirators carried out numerous internet-based fraud schemes dating back at least to 2001. The schemes involved using unsuspecting victims to cash counterfeit checks and money orders, using stolen credit card numbers to purchase electronics and other merchandise and using stolen personal identification information to take over victims’ bank accounts.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the conspirators recruited U.S. citizens via “romance scams,” in which the perpetrator would typically use a false identity on a dating website to establish a romantic relationship with an unsuspecting victim. Once the perpetrator gained the victim’s trust and affection, the perpetrator would convince the victim to either send money or to help carry out fraud schemes.

If you believe that you may have been a victim of criminal fraud committed by any of the defendants, please go to https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdms/scams and complete the questionnaire.


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