OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge in Oklahoma City has sentenced two Houston residents to prison for their roles in an online dating scam that conned victims in multiple states out of millions of dollars.
The Oklahoman reports that U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti on Friday sentenced 35-year-old Ken Ejimofor Ezeah to 11 years in prison. Last month the judge sentenced 33-year-old Akunna Baiyina Ejiofor to seven years.
The two were ordered to pay about $4.7 million in restitution to 10 victims. Prosecutors alleged the scheme occurred between May 2014 and January 2016.
Prosecutors say the online scam used popular dating sites, including ChristianMingle.com and Match.com, to befriend and then defraud older, vulnerable women.
Prosecutors say Ezeah and Ejiofor were charged last year in the wire fraud conspiracy, which involved creating dating profiles under the persona “Edward Peter Duffey,” a fictitious financial adviser from England. Prosecutors say the conspirators would build emotional relationships with the dating site users and eventually persuade them to transfer money for fake investments.
Ezeah pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitting to deceiving victims through “claims of romance.” Ejiofor chose to face trial. In March, jurors convicted Ejiofor of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and 18 counts of wire fraud.
During Ejiofor’s trial, Ezeah testified for prosecutors. Ezeah said he and at least two others participated in communicating with victims.
Prosecutors alleged that Ejiofor’s role included setting up the fraudulent profiles, acquiring bank accounts for the transfers and speaking on the phone with victims as “Duffey’s” daughter.
Ejiofor testified during the trial and claimed she was unaware the scam was going on, according to her trial attorney. Prosecutors reported that Ejiofor admitted to the FBI in January 2016 to setting up fake dating profiles for the scam.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com