Bronx residents charged with laundering millions in proceeds from romance scams

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Two Bronx residents face 20 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to commit money laundering, in connection with their involvement in laundering millions of dollars in proceeds derived from romance fraud schemes.

Nadine Jazmine Wade, 28 and Gregory Ochiagha,55, along with four co-defendants, allegedly contacted victims on various dating sites and convinced them, under false pretenses, to transfer funds to the defendants and others.

One online alias used in the schemes frequently employed the names “Diego Francisco,” “Richard Francisco,” or “Tom Francisco” (the “Francisco Alias”). They used pictures of a male model when providing victims with photos of the Francisco Alias. After engaging in conversation with the victims via phone, text and email, the defendants, posing as the Francisco Alias, would ask victims for money. The reason offered for why the Francisco Alias needed money could vary.

Each of the defendants created a shell company and opened bank accounts in the name of his or her respective shell company (the “Shell Company Accounts”). The Shell Company Accounts received funds from victims of the romance fraud scheme and rapidly depleted those funds through cash withdrawals, cashier’s checks and the purchase of vehicles, among other means. The Shell Company Accounts received over $4.5 million between 2018 and 2020, over $3.5 million of which came from victims of the romance fraud scheme.

“As alleged, the conspirators preyed on the emotions of their numerous online romance fraud victims to fleece the victims out of millions of dollars,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. “Thanks to the Secret Service and IRS Criminal, the defendants have dates in court to face federal charges.”

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