Gbenga Ogundele aka Benson Ogundele, 58, of Laurel, Maryland has been sentenced to 234 months in prison over conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering arising from a scheme to defraud vulnerable victims of millions of dollars.
Ogundele’s wife Moji Popoola, aka Mojisola Oluwakemi Tin Popoola/Moji T. Popoola, 42, also of Laurel, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Both sentences will be followed by three years of supervised release.
United States District Judge, Paul W. Grimm also convicted Ogundele of aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.
Judge Grimm, had on March 20, 2017, sentenced Mojisola’s brother Babatunde Emmanuel Popoola, aka Emmanuel Popoola/Tunde Popoola, 34 to 12 years imprisonment on the same charges.
Ogundele and the Popoolas were convicted on November 18, 2016, after a 17-day trial.
Ogundele, Mojisola, and Emmanuel, were, in 2015, indicted by a federal grand jury alongside Mukhtar Danjuma Haruna, aka “Mukhtar Haruna Danjuma” and “Mukky,” of Lagos, Nigeria; Victor Oyewumi Oloyede, 41, of Laurel; Olusegun Charles Ogunseye, aka “Charles O. Ogunseye,” 58, of Laurel; Adeyinka Olubunmi Awolaja, Jr., aka “Yinka O. Awolaja, Jr.,” 33, formerly of New Carrolltown, Maryland; Olusola Olla, 48, of Brown Summit, North Carolina; and Olufemi Wilfred Williams, aka “Wilfred Olufemi Williams” and “Femi Williams,” 26, of Owings Mills, Maryland.
The judge ordered Ogundele to forfeit $2,195,103.36, Mojisola Popoola to forfeit approximately $165,000 and to pay restitution of $34,100, and Emmanuel to pay restitution of $465,170.76.
According to the evidence presented during their trial, from January 2011 to May 18, 2015, members of the conspiracy searched online dating websites to initiate romantic relationships with elderly male and female individuals. They phoned, e-mailed, texted and used Internet chat messenger services to form romantic relationships with the victims, who lived in Maryland and around the country.
The members of the conspiracy were said to have used a number of false stories and promises to convince the victims to provide money to the conspirators, including fake hospital bills, plane trips to visit the victims, problems with overseas businesses and foreign taxes. The conspirators opened bank accounts in order to receive millions of dollars from the victims.
Numerous deposits from several victims into bank accounts controlled by the defendants, or checks received from the victims, ranging in individual amounts from $1,720 to $30,000 were also discovered.
Members of the conspiracy used false stories and promises to convince the victims to provide money to the conspirators, including fake hospital bills, plane trips to visit the victims, problems with overseas businesses and foreign taxes.
Oloyede, a co-conspirator was sentenced to 234 months in prison.
Awolaja, Ogunseye, and Williams pleaded guilty to the charges against them. Awolaja will be sentenced on June 12, 2017, Ogunseye, on July 25, 2017, and Williams, on July 27, 2017.