Georgia man sentenced to decade in prison by judge in Arizona in romance scam case
PHOENIX – A federal judge in Arizona sentenced a Georgia man to nearly 11 years in prison for conspiring to defraud more than $1 million in a romance scam that targeted elderly victims, authorities said Thursday.
Onovughe Ighorhiohwunu, 47, of Kennesaw, was sentenced in a Tucson court last week to 130 months in prison, fined $25,000 and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said in a press release.
Previously, a federal jury found Ighorhiohwunu guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Prosecutors say he and conspirators with connections to Nigeria preyed upon victims in the U.S. through dating websites and online games such as Words With Friends.
They would act as if they had romantic intentions and then claim to need money to deal with a crisis, such as an emergency medical procedure.
The conspirators convinced at least 10 victims to mail or wire money. Ighorhiohwunu was paid for his role in the scheme, prosecutors said.
“Internet-based scams like this one starkly illustrate both the greed of the perpetrators and the generosity of the elderly victims,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino said in the release.
“Thanks to our partners at the Federal Bureau of Investigation for unraveling the complex scheme and providing a strong message of deterrence.”
The FBI investigated the case, and the Tucson bureau of the U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted it.