Nigerians Scammers Living In The U.S. Romance Scam Elderly Man Who Then Takes His Own Life!
The FBI has disclosed a tragic story involving a retired teacher’s suicide, a result of falling victim to a sick celebrity romance scam, allegedly orchestrated by a New Jersey couple of Nigerian descent, Chinagorom Onwumere, 34, and Salma Abdalkareem, 27, residing in the United States.
The heartbreaking incident unfolded in Greeneville, Tennessee, where the 74-year-old teacher took his life after losing nearly $100,000 to the romance scam perpetuated by Onwumere and Abdalkareem. The victim was convinced he was romantically involved with a well-known female celebrity, misled by the couple.
The scam involved fraudulent emails, where the victim believed he was communicating with the celebrity. However, emails purportedly from the “United States FBI” accused the victim of sexually harassing the celebrity through their exchanges, demanding payment to settle the issue. Subsequently, the victim sent significant amounts via checks and bank transactions, falling prey to the couple’s manipulative tactics.
The Victim’s Suicide
Tragically, the victim’s death was ruled a suicide, discovered by law enforcement responding to an address in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where the elderly man was found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The victim’s family discovered incriminating emails on his tablet, exposing the fraudulent scheme.
Investigations revealed the checks sent by the victim were deposited into accounts held by Onwumere and Abdalkareem. Video footage from an ATM in Colts Neck, New Jersey, captured the couple depositing one of the victim’s checks into a joint account. The evidence led to their arrest by the Piscataway Township Police Department.
According to the Washington County Sherrif’s Department
WCSO ARRESTS NEW JERSEY NIGERIAN PAIR IN ROMANCE EXTORTION SCAM
JONESBOROUGH – Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested New Jersey residents Chinagorom Onwumere, 34, and Salma Abdalkareem, 27, in relation to an extortion scam.
Both are charged with three counts each of Extortion, three counts each of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly/Vulnerable Person, two counts each of
Theft Over $60,000 and two counts each of Criminal Impersonation.
According to Sheriff Keith Sexton, WCSO became aware of a scam in late October. The victim sent numerous gift cards along with three checks totaling $87,500 to the suspects, who made threats to the victim and the victim’s family via email. It is estimated the victim sent more than $100,000 total.
Deputies traced the pair to New Jersey and worked with the Piscataway Township Police Department to execute a search warrant on the suspect’s home, which resulted in their arrest on Fugitive from Justice charges.
Onwumere and Abdalkareem waived extradition and were transported to the Washington County Detention Center.
At their initial court appearance on Nov. 20, bond was set at $500,000 each for the pair. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov.
Onwumere, a member of the Army National Guard, worked in financial management. Abdalkareem and Onwumere provided conflicting statements to law enforcement when confronted with evidence, suggesting various reasons for receiving money, none of which aligned with the truth.
The couple faces federal charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and impersonating a U.S. officer, accused of extracting more than $90,000 from the victim. However, local authorities suspect the total could be higher.
“They both work to attempt in getting the check to deposit, finally the check deposits, and they depart,” the complaint states. “Onwumere was wearing a USA shirt with a coat and an Army hat.”
“Adbalkareem claimed that they received checks to help Nigerians buy cars in the U.S. and Onwumere claimed that he was getting money from Nigeria for a friend of his that he met in basic training,” the complaint says.
“You’ll use your expertise in math to provide financial advice and recommendations for units looking to purchase services and supplies for their missions,” the Army website tells prospective recruits. “You’ll also be in charge of military pay, overseeing services with commercial vendors, auditing, accounting, banking operations, and more.”
While such scams often originate internationally, the unusual exposure of the perpetrators’ identities led to their arrest. Eva Velasquez, president of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, highlighted the emotional impact of such crimes, emphasizing that victims aren’t gullible but instead preyed upon by deceitful tactics.
The case demonstrates “something that we’ve been really trying to get people to pay attention to, and that is the emotional impact of these crimes,” Velasquez told
Onwumere and Abdalkareem remain in custody on a $500,000 bond, awaiting their next court appearance, with no attorneys listed on the federal docket at present. Their case stands as a grim reminder of the devastating impact and manipulation tactics used in online romance scams, shedding light on the need for awareness and prevention against such criminal activities.