CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Tochukwu Okerulu a/k/a MT, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, for his role in a romance fraud scheme. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito, Jr., who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, the defendant is accused of participating in a romance fraud, a scheme orchestrated to obtain cash and property from unsuspecting victims using romantic overtures and appealing to victims’ emotions. Okerulu allegedly conspired with others to defraud a victim in the Western District of New York with another member of the conspiracy falsely expressing a romantic interest in the victim, which prompted the victim to send more than $220,000 to members of the conspiracy.
In addition to the victim in the Western District of New York, other victims nationwide were similarly defrauded, through romance fraud and other schemes. A total of 29 victims lost approximately $1,745,928 as a result of Okerulu’s role in this conspiracy.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia, and Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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