Houston man stole $1.6 million from seniors in romance scam

A Houston resident recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges in a Rhode Island federal court, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island on Monday.

Fola Alabi, also known as Folaemi Alabi, 52, from Richmond, Texas, admitted to a federal judge that he opened bank accounts and set up fake companies to launder more than $1.6 million from retirees. The Alabie scam targeted seniors in at least 11 states, including Rhode Island, using romantic scams.

The scam was simple: A member of the Alabi scam network contacted seniors online using a fake name. They often used the fabricated identity of an American military general serving overseas and in need of financial assistance. “The General” feigned romantic interest in the victims in order to gain their trust and convince them to send substantial, sometimes six-figure sums to fake companies set up by Alabi to store and launder money.

For example, a Rhode Island widow was contacted by a member of a scam posing as a four-star general named “General Miller.” The scammer convinced the widow to send $60,000 for “General Miller” to ship his personal items to the US. The widow mailed a check to Alaby’s Texas address, to be paid to Alaby’s company, Full Circle Import Exports. She was about to send another $240,000 when her bank sent a notice to local authorities after determining she had likely been scammed.

According to CBS News, the Arizona woman lost $334,000 in the scam and told investigators she “felt shame, embarrassment and guilt at being scammed.”

Alabi’s sentencing is scheduled for April 2023. Under the terms of the plea deal, Alabie will forfeit all $1,640,421 in the fraud, another $31,773 held in a segregated bank account, and her residence in Texas, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney.

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