Man brought from Nigeria to Lexington to face charges in romance scam

Nigerian national Adedunmola Gbadegesin is accused of defrauding elderly victims and money laundering

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Nigerian national was brought from Nigeria to Lexington on Wednesday to face federal charges in a so-called ‘romance scam.’

Prosecutors say 33-year old Adedunmola Gbadegesin, of Lagos, Nigeria, created fake online dating profiles for online dating websites which led to online chats, emails and phone calls with unwitting victims in the United States, including an elderly woman in Lexington.

Prosecutors say victims were convinced to send money to romantic partners who didn’t really exist or give them access to their financial accounts to initiate money transfers.

According to recently unsealed Court documents, a federal grand jury in Lexington returned an indictment charging Gbadegesin alongside two others, 34-year old Olatunbosun Oluwakayode Ajayi, of Atlanta, Georgia, and 45-year old Otunuya Ineh Eqwem Livingstone, of Houston, Texas, with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The indictment alleges that Gbadegesin hired others in the U.S. to receive funds from victims and to launder those funds, so the funds could be returned back to Gbadegesin in Nigeria.  Those United States-based money launderers included Ineh Eqwem, Ajayi, and Ismaila Fafunmi.

Fafunmi pleaded guilty to his role in the money laundering scheme; and in August 2021, he received 51 months in prison.  Ineh Eqwem and Ajayi have also pleaded guilty for their roles in the money laundering scheme; they were sentenced to 24 months and 12 months, respectively, according to prosecutors.

Gbadgesin was arrested by Nigerian authorities on Sept. 22, 2021, in Lagos, Nigeria at the request of the United States. At the time of his arrest, Gbadgesein had been living in Lagos, Nigeria.  Nigeria approved his extradition on March 21, 2021, and he was transferred into U.S. custody on April 26, 2022.

Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Louisville Field Office, jointly announced the indictment.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI.  The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Dieruf.  The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria, the Nigerian Attorney General’s Office, the Central Authority Unity, and the FBI Louisville Field Office assisted with the extradition of Gbadgesein.

Gbadegesin has his first appearance in Court on May 2, 2022 at 11:30 a.m. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000.  However, any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by the Court, after its consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal sentencing statutes.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s efforts to identify and prosecute those persons who facilitate elder financial exploitation.

The Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Mission, being carried out through the Kentucky Elder Justice Task Force, is to seek justice for victims of elder financial exploitation.

Anyone that knows someone, who may be a victim of an elder financial exploitation, is encouraged to contact law enforcement.

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