ILLUSTRATION BY JUSTINE ALLENETTE ROSS
Today in federal court in St. Louis a 37-year-old man from Texas pleaded guilty to duping a Missouri woman out of more than half a million a dollars.
As part of scheme, Rotimi Oladimeji and other fraudsters used the identity of a man identified only in court docs as "GJ" to set up a LinkedIn profile claiming to be a Belgian ex-pat veterinarian and animal behaviorist living in the St. Louis area.
In October 2019, under the identity GJ, Oladimeji began chatting with a Missouri woman, identified in court documents as RW, on the dating website Elite Singles.
Court filings say that Oladimeji directed RW to check out GJ's LinkedIn profile if she had any doubts concerning what GJ said about himself.
The scammers quickly convinced RW that she was involved in a romantic relationship with GJ. The scammers made plans with RW to meet up with GJ, but the plans always fell through. Once GJ even ghosted her at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
About two weeks after Oladimeji began communicating with the Missouri woman, he told her that GJ was embarking on a business trip to Dubai.
On day after GJ "arrived" in Dubai, the fraudsters contacted RW to say that he had encountered "financial emergencies" and that she needed to send money to the United Arab Emirates or else GJ would not be able to leave.
From October 2019 until April 2020, Oladimeji and others conned the unidentified Missouri woman into sending more than $1 million.
Some of the money was sent through wire transfers. In other instanced the funds were sent as cashier's checks or cash to one of the alleged scammer's addresses in Texas. RW sent at least three cashier's checks worth more than $50,000 to Texas, as well as at least $5,000 in cash. In total, she sent $314,000 in cash and cashier's checks to the Lone Star State.
Additionally, RW also attempted to send more $900,000 via wire transfers to banks in both Texas and Dubai. Some of those wire transfers were blocked from going through, but most of the money made it to the scammers.
Oladimeji recruited others to help him handle the funds in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. In court today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry said that Oladimeji kept some of the money and sent much of it to others in the U.S. and in Nigeria.
Oladimeji was arrested in August of last year and hit with a slew of charges, including the ones he pleaded guilty to today: conspiracy to commit mail fraud, two counts of mail fraud, and two counts of wire fraud. Other charges, including one of identity theft, were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 per charge he pleaded guilty to. Oladimeji, who is not a U.S. citizen, is scheduled to be sentenced March 23.
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