Maryland man sentenced for romance fraud scheme

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Maryland man will have to pay $90,000 in restitution in connection with a romance fraud scheme.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that 29-year-old Oluwabamishe Awolesi, of Beltsville, Maryland, was sentenced to five years of federal probation — including 60 days of home detention — for his role in the scheme, in which more participants took at least $2.5 million from more than 200 victims.

Multiple people were involved in the scheme between 2016 and 2020, which involved individuals posing as people seeking romantic partners, friendships and other relationships. The participants created online profiles using fictitious names and information, allowing them to form relationships with victims.

Awolesi lived in Huntington at the time of the scheme.

Officials said one victim transferred $90,000 into Awolesi’s checking account in September 2018. Awolesi forwarded $78,000 to the other people involved in the scheme.

The related investigation was through the work of West Virginia and federal agencies.

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