Man pleads guilty to being part of romance scheme that bilked Kentucky woman out $200,000

Published 6:25 am Friday, April 9, 2021

A man pleaded guilty in federal court to being involved in a coordinated scheme to bilk unsuspecting women — including a Kentucky woman over the age of 70— from hundreds of thousands of dollars believing they were involved in a romantic relationship.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Olatunbosun Oluwakayode Ajayi, 38, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to being involved in the money laundering conspiracy.

Ismaila Fafunmi, an Indianapolis man, another co-conspirator, pleaded guilty in August to taking part in the money laundering effort.

Ajayi and others communicated through online chats.  The co-conspirators would set up fake profiles on dating websites profiling American men, often military members and would engage in conversations with victims, typically women older than 50, through a dating website, making the victims believe they were in a romantic relationship with the individual in the fictitious profile.

Ajayi and his co-conspirators would then convince these unsuspecting women to send money for various reasons.  One victim of the scheme, a Kentucky woman in her 70s,  sent more than $200,000 to a person she believed to be her boyfriend.

In another scheme,  another female over 50 believed she was being awarded a large grant and had to pay fees upfront in order to receive her award.

In the scams,  the conspirators would create bank accounts, in various names, to retrieve the fraudulent funds. They would retain a portion of the victim funds, and then convert the remainder to wire transfers, to be sent back to co-conspirators in Nigeria. Victims also sent money in the form of postal money orders to addresses belonging to the co-conspirators.

A third co-defendant in the case, Livingstone Otunuya Ineh Eqwem, is set to go to trial in federal court on June 7, according to court records.