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Fraudsters stole $4.5M in online romance scam, officials say

Four people, including a New Jersey man and a couple who formerly lived in New Jersey, have been indicted in a $4.5 million internet romance scam, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said.

Martins Inalegwu, 34, of Philadelphia, and Steincy Mathieu, 26, of Brooklyn, New York, who used to reside in Burlington County, along with Nigerian national Moses Chukwuebuka Alexander, were indicted on April 6 on various charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, prosecutors said.

Oluwaseyi Fatolu, of Springfield, was indicted on a charge of conducting an unlawful money transmitting business, in which she allegedly helped the scammers transfer the stolen funds between accounts in the U.S. and oversees for a fee, officials said.

Alexander is currently considered a fugitive, authorities said.

Inalegwu, Mathieu and Alexander, along with multiple coconspirators, allegedly contacted more than 100 users across the U.S. on dating and social media websites between 2016 and 2020, using fake personas and pretending to develop romantic relationships with them, according to court documents.

They then communicated with the victims via phone and email before asking them to send money for false emergency needs, documents said. The victims sent money via wire transfers, paper checks and money transferring services such as Western Union, authorities said.

Inalegwu and Mathieu are also accused of being involved in a rental scam, in which they advertised apartments for rent that they did not own and collected application fees and security deposits from the victims before cutting off communication, officials said.

Fatolu was arraigned on Wednesday. Inalegwu and Mathieu are scheduled to be arraigned on April 20.

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