Texas man sentenced for romance schemes, defrauding Westerly widow

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha said a Texas man was sentenced for his role in a conspiracy to defraud seniors in at least 11 states.

Cunha said Fola Alabi, 52, of Richmond Texas, was sentenced to more than three years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release on Tuesday.

According to court documents, Alabi previously admitted that he created companies and opened bank accounts that were used to launder at least $1.5M collected from the romance scams.

Court filings further show the funds laundered by Alabi were often wired overseas to China and India.

Officials said the scams would involve befriending unknowing seniors online, often posing as a General in the U.S. military who was serving overseas.

Members of the conspiracy would then feign a friendship or romantic relationship in their victims and convince them to send large amounts of money.

That money would either be wired overseas or spent on personal expenses like Alabi’s mortgage.

Among Alabi’s victims was a Rhode Island widow who was ultimately convinced to send $60,000 to the so-called General, documents stated.

Officials said the victim was prepared to send another large sum of money when her bank and Westerly police determined she was likely a victim of fraud.

Alabi was arrested in May 2022, and pleaded guilty on January 13, 2023, to conspiracy and money laundering.

Alabi was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the scams totaling $1,495,421 and to forfeit funds in a bank account containing $31,773.

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