Texas Man Pleads Guilty in Online Romance Scams in At Least Eleven States Including Rhode Island

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PROVIDENCE – United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced Fola Alabi, also known as Folayemi Alabi, 52, from Richmond, Texas, pleaded guilty in Providence federal court to charges of conspiracy and money laundering, confessing that he created companies and opened bank accounts for laundering money worth $1.6 million in proceeds swindled from senior citizens in at least 11 states, including Rhode Island, in online romance scams.

The scheme starts when a conspirator befriends an unwary senior citizen online and goes by the name “General Miller”. The conspirator establishes personal connection with them, often acting to have a romantic interest in the victims. Then, the conspirator would convince the victim to send a significant amount of money, usually in the form of bank cheques or cash, to addresses and companies in Texas operated by Alabi.

According to court documents, one of the victims of Alabi is a widow from Rhode Island who was bilked $60,000. The widow was contacted by one of Alabi’s conspirators claiming to be a “General Miller”, a four-star general. The purported “General Miller” successfully persuaded the victim to send $60,000 to fund the shipment of his personal belongings to the United States. The check was made payable to Full Circle Import Exports, which is one of the companies created by Alabi for the scheme, and sent to Alabi’s residence in Texas. An additional hefty amount of money would have been sent by the victim to Alabi if it were not for the intervention of the Westerly Police Department after finding out that the widow was likely a victim of fraud.

The court documents state that the cellphone seized from Alabi contains photographs and videos of packages containing cash and cheques he received from his victims. The cellphone was seized last May 2022 that was also the time of Alabi’s arrest. The loss embedded from to the online romance scams operated by Alabi and his team totalled to $1,640,421; and under the terms of the plea agreement, Alabi will have his assets derived from criminal conduct forfeited, including his Texas residence the $31,773.22 in his bank account.

The prosecutors for the case are Assistant United States Attorneys Ly T. Chin and Sara Bloom; and was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, FBI, United States Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations. The sentencing date for Alabi is set on April 25, 2023.

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