Man sentenced to federal prison for 'romance scam

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis man has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for a "romance scam" that targeted two dozen elderly people, creating severe financial hardship for some of them.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced 30-year-old Hammed Akande. He pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis said romance scams involve targeting victims through online dating sites and social media. The criminals pretend to be interested in romantic relationships when the real goal is to get the victims to provide money and merchandise.

Federal prosecutors said Akande's role was to receive mailings containing money and electronic devices. He would then forward a portion of the money and merchandise to Nigerian residents also involved in the scam.

All 24 victims were over the age of 60. Four of the victims had combined losses of nearly $575,000.