Nigerian scammer arrested in UK on Illinois charges


Nigerian scammer arrested in U.K. on Illinois charges

August 12, 2014 11:18 am

Former Belleville resident admits tax fraud conspiracy

EAST ST. LOUIS • A Nigerian man indicted here and accused of running an online “romance scam” that victimized at least 30 women in Illinois, Missouri and elsewhere has been arrested in London, the U.S. attorney’s office said Tuesday.

Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 31, pretended to be a current or retired member of the military, using information and photos he’d stolen from real people on online dating sites, the indictment says. He wooed each woman for months, using flowers, stuffed animals, greeting cards and candy and promises that each “was his one true love, his sole love interest, and the woman with whom he intended to spend the rest of his life,” the indictment claims. Once they were involved in a relationship, Sunmola began manufacturing fake emergencies that required ever-increasing amounts of money from his victims, prosecutors said.

The victims were not named but lived in Illinois’ Bond County, St. Charles and St. Louis counties, Mascoutah and elsewhere. Sunmola often pretended to be from Mascoutah, the indictment says.

Sunmola scammed a Bond County woman into buying electronics and shipping them to him, reshipping electronics he’d bought using stolen credit card information and taking out cash advances on a credit card, the indictment says. She was forced into bankruptcy, eventually owing at least $98,000.

One unnamed resident of Mascoutah was tricked into buying a webcam and posing “in a sexually suggestive position,” then blackmailed by Sunmola, prosecutors said. He emailed a video to her and relatives and threatened to post the pictures online, telling “the woman that by the time he was done with her she would want to kill herself” if she didn’t keep sending him money, prosecutors said.

Another was tricked into cashing fake traveler’s checks for Sunmola, caught and charged, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Sunmola was indicted Nov. 20, on eight felony counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and extortion, but the indictment was sealed until last month, to aid Sunmola’s extradition.

Sunmola, originally of Lagos, Nigeria, currently lives in South Africa and was arrested as he was preparing to board a British Airlines flight from Heathrow Airport to Johannesburg.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Southern Illinois worked with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service and the Illinois attorney general’s office, which referred the case to prosecutors.

Another Nigerian man, Adagun Moshood Olalekan, was indicted by the same office March 4, and accused of a similar scam. He has been arrested by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crime Commission and is awaiting extradition, prosecutors said.

Robert Patrick covers federal courts and federal law enforcement for the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter: @rxpatrick.


Staff member

Sunday Times News By MONICA LAGANPARSAD, 2016-03-13
Cyber scam that stole hearts, cash of lonely women

On New Year's Day, dressed in her white wedding dress, Elizabeth, along with her local pastor and family, waited at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for her future husband to arrive from South Africa.

The bride-to-be was anxious - it would be her first face-to-face meeting with the man she met on an internet dating site.

He had told her he was a US soldier stationed in South Africa.

They chatted online for about eight months, he charming her with affectionate posts, and she making several money transfers to him. She was in love and so was he - he said.

But he did not disembark with the other passengers. Growing fearful, she thought he might have missed his flight. So she called him.

The man on the other side of the line answered and said curtly: ''Are you crazy? Do you actually think I would fly all that way to marry someone I haven't met? You've been scammed."

She had been blinded by love and had sent the man she loved a small fortune when he pleaded for emergency cash.

The heartbroken and humiliated Elizabeth is among the hundreds of ditched women across the US, the UK and Canada who were swindled out of millions of rands by a syndicate operating from Pretoria.

This network, set up by a sophisticated Nigerian internet fraud syndicate in 2009, ran a romance scam alongside a smooth credit card hustle, which enabled them to steal more than R70-million from foreign victims over six years.

South Africa's elite cybercrime unit attached to the Hawks swooped on the scamsters and shut down the multimillion enterprise in a top-level police operation in collaboration with US authorities and the UK's Scotland Yard.

Colonel Rapula Mosito, head of the South African leg of the operation, said such romance scams were a global phenomenon.

''We had two phases in this investigation. In the first phase we arrested 11 Nigerians, who were identified and extradited to the US to face trial for fraud," Mosito said.

The modus operandi of the syndicate included hacking into victims' bank accounts and stealing credit details.

''They would purchase things online, spending millions of rands ... They were buying expensive electronic equipment, like iPads and laptops, which was shipped to South Africa to be distributed in West Africa," Mosito said.

A sting operation was set up and the syndicate was arrested. It wasn't long after that the unit was contacted again by the US authorities who had spent two years building a solid case against a man identified as the romance scam's kingpin.

''They knew he was in South Africa but they didn't know who he was or where he was operating from," explained Mosito.

Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola posed as a divorced US soldier on dating sites such as and (plenty of fish) and targeted divorced or widowed women aged between 40 and 60 who had children.

''This man would profess his love for these women for months and eventually come up with emergencies like his child had a medical emergency and he needed money. So they would send him thousands of dollars," said Mosito.

While only 46 victims have come forward, more than 100 women had fallen victim to the charms of the romance pundit, he said.

Only a few come forward because they are embarrassed, humiliated and feel stupid for falling for the con

''They cast their net very wide. And some of these women sold their houses, took bank loans and bankrupted themselves to give him money."

The women had paid between R3000 and R1.4-million to a man they had never met, Mosito said.

In one of the most shocking cases, one of the victims gave Sunmola, 32, her life savings, sold her house and even took out bank loans. She eventually filed for bankruptcy.

Mosito said Sunmola arrived in South Africa in 2007 on a business visa with the assigned role to lure vulnerable women.

He bought four properties, paying cash - three houses in Pretoria North and one in Benmore in Sandton.

A house in Theresa Park was the headquarters. During a search in 2014, police recovered six laptops, 20 cellphones and several external hard drives.

Sunmola was travelling in the UK. In a joint operation with Scotland Yard, he was arrested at Heathrow Airport in August 2014 after an Interpol red notice had been issued. He was extradited to the US to stand trial.

Last week, Mosito flew to East St Louis, Illinois, to testify against Sunmola, who was facing eight counts of fraud.

After two days of testimony from a dozen witnesses, Sunmola opted to plead guilty.

He was indicted on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion. One victim testified how he had sent her flowers, stuffed animals, greeting cards and chocolates.

The woman testified how she was unwittingly drawn into a scheme involving counterfeit or stolen traveller's cheques. She was arrested by US police and jailed, and charged with theft by deception and forgery.

Sunmola now faces up to 127 years in a US prison and a fine of R2-million .

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the Asset Forfeiture Unit auctioned off Sunmola's four homes last year.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said: ''Currently processes are under way to repatriate approximately R2.8-million to the US for victim compensation."

Brigadier Piet Pieterse, head of the South African cybercrime unit, said there were probably were hundreds of victims worldwide.

"But only a few come forward because they are embarrassed, humiliated and feel stupid for falling for the con," he said.


Staff member

The South African cyber scam that stole R70 million from lonely women
An Internet fraud syndicate operating out of Pretoria stole over R70 million from hundreds of women over six years.
By Staff Writer - March 13, 2016

An Internet fraud syndicate operating out of Pretoria stole over R70 million from hundreds of women over six years, with a Nigerian man posing as a US soldier to win the hearts of his lonely victims.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, the cyber scam network was set up by a group of Nigerians in 2009, which ran romance and credit card-related scams.

One victim was an American woman who was ditched while waiting at an airport, in her wedding dress along with her pastor, for her “future husband”.

She had never met the man in person, but he said he was a US soldier stationed in South Africa.

The pair had talked online for eight months after meeting on an online dating site, during which time she made several money transfers to him.

Hundreds of women scammed
According to the report, hundreds of women from the US, UK, and Canada were scammed by the Pretoria syndicate.

The Hawks, working with US and UK authorities, bust the group – with 11 Nigerians arrested and extradited to the US in the first phase of the operation.

”They would purchase things online, spending millions of rand. They were buying… iPads and laptops, which were shipped to South Africa to be distributed in West Africa,” said The Hawks in the report.

The Hawks were then contacted by US authorities, which had identified the syndicate’s kingpin – Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola.

He was based in South Africa, and used sites like and to target divorced or widowed women aged between 40 and 60.

”This man would profess his love for these women for months and eventually come up with emergencies like his child had a medical emergency and he needed money.”

Victims would then transfer funds to the “US soldier”. The women paid between R3,000 and R1.4 million each to Sunmola.

46 victims have come forward so far, stated the report.

Sunmola’s scams were so successful that he bought three properties in Pretoria and one in Sandton – paying cash.

Sunmola was arrested in 2014 by Scotland Yard while travelling in the UK, and last week saw representatives from The Hawks testifying against him during a trial in the US.

Sunmola faces up to 127 years in a US prison and a fine of R2 million.
The full report is available in the Sunday Times of 13 March 2016.

Nigerian man admits scamming hundreds of women online
Robert Patrick St. Louis
Mar 3, 2016
EAST ST. LOUIS • An online scammer on Wednesday admitted that he was the ringleader of a group that successfully wooed hundreds of women online, then convinced them to send cash to bail him out of phony emergencies, prosecutors said Thursday.

Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 32, of Lagos, tricked one woman into cashing counterfeit or stolen traveler’s checks, prosecutors said. She contemplated suicide when arrested. He lured another into performing sexual acts, which he recorded via webcam, they said. He then threatened to “ruin her life” with the recordings if she didn't send him cash, warning that “by the time he was done with her she would want to kill herself,” prosecutors said.

Sunmola pleaded guilty Wednesday to all eight felonies he faced, two days into his criminal trial, prosecutors said.

As part of the scheme, Sunmola created bogus online profiles in which he claimed to be an American citizen or a former U.S. soldier, using photographs stolen from the hacked accounts of real men, prosecutors said.

After attracting the interest of women, including dozens in the St. Louis area, Sunmola sent flowers, stuffed animals, cards and candy to make them think he was their “one true love,” prosecutors said.

Once he succeeded, Sunmola began to claim a series of increasingly serious, but phony, emergencies for which he needed cash, prosecutors said. Some sent thousands of dollars.

The victims were not named but lived around the country, including in Mascoutah and Bond County in Illinois and St. Charles and St. Louis counties in Missouri, his indictment says.

A Bond County woman bought electronics and shipped them to Sunmola, reshipped items he’d bought using stolen credit card information and took out cash advances on a credit card, forcing herself into bankruptcy with debts of at least $98,000, the indictment claims.

The investigation included the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, as well as South African officials, who investigated Sunmola's activities there and started forfeiture proceedings for his assets there.

Sunmola was indicted in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis in 2013 on mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion charges. He was arrested in August 2014 by Scotland Yard as he was about to board a flight from London to South Africa, then extradited here to face the charges.

At his sentencing June 27, he could get up to 127 years and a fine of $250,000 and will have to pay restitution, prosecutors said.

Another fake soldier was indicted by the same prosecutors in 2014. His case is still pending.

“Our office will continue to pursue justice for these victims in Sunmola’s prison sentence and in our never-ending efforts to get restitution,” said Acting U.S. Attorney James Porter.


Staff member

Prosecutors seek long prison term for Nigerian who stole money from Missouri and Illinois women on promise of love
By Robert Patrick St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Aug 12, 2016
EAST ST. LOUIS • A Nigerian who exploited hundreds of U.S. women online by promising romance while looting their finances ended up face to face with one of them in federal court here Friday.

“Did you think it was fun doing this to us? Do you have a heart?” asked a woman identified in court only as Jane Doe No. 6. Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 33, shackled and wearing a jail jumpsuit, did not answer.

The initial part of his sentencing hearing, which will resume in several weeks, provided the first chance for a victim to impress U.S. District Judge David Herndon firsthand with the scam’s impact. Officials said dozens of the victims live in Missouri and Illinois.

Prosecutors, who said Sunmola bankrupted some and drove at least one to the brink of suicide, are asking a prison term of 27 years to more than 33 years. They argued for extra time because of his “unusually heinous, cruel, brutal, and degrading behavior.”

Sometimes, officials said, Sunmola persuaded victims to send sexually explicit photos, then blackmailed them for money on a threat to share the images with their relatives. In one case, he shared the pictures even after being paid.

Jane Doe 6 was a recently divorced single mother when she met Sunmola over the internet. She is partially disabled and a survivor of an abusive relationship.

She said she was drawn in by his claim of being a U.S. Army major stationed in South Africa, whose wife died in an auto accident and whose daughter was left with neighbors while he was overseas. She said he told her they were soul mates and would soon be together.

This was his typical approach, prosecutors said. He and his ilk would join online dating sites, pretend to be in the military or businessmen, and tailor their profiles to their victims’ desires.

Such criminals often pretend to be widowed, to show that they can love again, according to testimony by Monica T. Whitty, a professor at the University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom, who has studied “romance scams.”

The scammers used pictures of men in uniform they found online, sometimes on memorial sites for those who died. The crooks used emails, instant messages, flowers, candy and other gifts to woo their targets.

Some victims bought or picked out wedding gowns, or began using the fake last name Sunmola had adopted.

“Once he had gained their confidence and love, he began systematically destroying them,” prosecutors said in a court document.

Sunmola soon began concocting small emergencies that required cash: his credit card wasn’t accepted overseas or he needed money to pay for food or lodging. The requests grew until the victims’ financial assets were drained — or they finally caught on, prosecutors said.

In Illinois, a woman from Bond County bought electronics and shipped them to Sunmola, reshipped items he had bought using stolen credit card information and took out cash advances on a credit card, Sunmola’s indictment claims. She later filed for bankruptcy, with debts of at least $98,000.

The women who were not too ashamed to talk to investigators said that they collectively lost between $730,000 and $1 million, prosecutors wrote. He used the money for lavish parties, two Range Rover vehicles, four properties in South Africa and a $363,000 home in Nigeria.

Sunmola also ran a scam involving stolen credit card numbers, an investigation by the South African Police Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service showed.

His victims were unaware that credit cards and checks he sent to them were bogus, and that gifts of electronics were fraudulently purchased. Sometimes victims would be tricked a second time, when contacted by fake foreign “investigators” who claimed to have seized gifts the women sent to Sunmola and demanding thousands of dollars in “customs payments” to send them back.

Sunmola, of Lagos, Nigeria, was indicted in 2013 and arrested in August 2014 by Scotland Yard as he was about to fly from London to South Africa, where he was living at the time. He was found with four cellphones, two laptop computers, two iPads, an iPod and 5,255 British pounds, court records show.

Two days into his trial in March, Sunmola pleaded gultiy to eight felonies, including mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion.

Several of Sunmola’s victims, including Jane Doe 6, also fell victim to what Whitty and prosecutors call sexual abuse. He convinced them to send nude pictures or perform sexual acts by webcam and used them for blackmail.

A Georgia woman was so “devastated” that her family put her on suicide watch, officials said. She lost her managerial job, was nearly prosecuted for cashing Sunmola’s bogus checks and now cleans toilets for a living.

In reference to Jane Doe 6 in a sentencing memo, prosecutors wrote, “Sunmola told her that by the time he was done with her, she would want to kill herself.” They said she told them, “And he was basically right.”

Whitty testified that there had to be a motivation other than money, suggesting that only a “psychopath” would enjoy exploiting and mocking the women even after taking all their money. The professor also said that more than one victim suffered “severe psychological harm.”

One victim said on a video played in court that, “Every payday I get mad, because I know I don’t have enough to go around.”

Said another: “I just wanted somebody to love.”

Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola of Nigeria was sentenced Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, for scamming women online by pretending to be a member of the U.S. military. (Image taken from sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors.)


Staff member

"Prince Charming" behind bars: Nigerian romance scammer nets 27-year prison sentence
published February 3 2017 9:06 AM
updated February 3 2017 9:39 AM

EAST ST. LOUIS - Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 33, of Lagos, Nigeria, was sentenced this morning to serve 324 months behind bars for an elaborate international romance scam he perpetrated from 2007 to 2014, U.S. Attorney Donald S. Boyce for the Southern District of Illinois announced today.

Evidence presented in court showed that Sunmola was the ringleader of a criminal organization operating in South Africa that targeted hundreds of women across the United States, including many in the St. Louis area. The thieves managed to make away with millions of dollars in wire transfers and various electronics through the simple promise of true, enduring love.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service began investigating Sunmola in 2012, when a woman in the Southern District of Illinois complained that she had been conned by a man masquerading online as “Elias Dyess.” The investigation soon revealed that “Dyess” was merely one of the dozens of fictitious online profiles Sunmola and his confederates concocted on dating websites like to lure unsuspecting women. Portraying himself as an American soldier stationed overseas, or an engineer working on a large government contract in South Africa, Sunmola cultivated romantic relationships with dozens of women across the country. To further the conceit, he used photographs stolen from the hacked online accounts of real American men and researched facts about the American cities he pretended to be from. He also showered the women with poetry, cards, flowers, stuffed animals, and chocolates. Sunmola’s purpose was to lead each of his victims to believe that he was her “Prince Charming,” her one true love, and the man with whom she was destined to spend the rest of her life.

Once he had successfully beguiled his target, Sunmola began to manufacture phony emergencies, each of which required increasingly large amounts of money from his victims. He played upon each woman’s romantic feelings and vulnerabilities, manipulating them into wiring him money or shipping him laptop computers, tablets, and cell phones – equipment he told themhe needed to complete his government mission. The women were invariably told to direct their shipments to “Ilumsa Sunmola,” who was passed off as their lover’s driver, or a co-worker, or a hotel manager. In fact, it was Sunmola himself who was slowly bleeding them dry. When the money inevitably ran out, or the women refused to send more, Sunmola would abruptly end the

A federal grand jury sitting in East St. Louis, Illinois, indicted Sunmola in November2013 on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion. Officers with the London Metropolitan Police Service (sometimes referred to as “Scotland Yard”) later arrested Sunmola on the Southern Illinois indictment in August 2014, as he was about to board a plane from London to Johannesburg, South Africa. Sunmola eventually pled guilty to all eight counts of the indictment on March 2, 2016, after two full days of trial.

The United States has no way of knowing the precise amount of money Sunmola and his associates stole, but victims who responded to government requests for information reported total losses in excess of $1.7 million – a figure Sunmola has been ordered to pay in restitution. The crime forced at least three women to file for bankruptcy. Several more lost their jobs and their homes and were left in total financial ruin. One victim who testified at the trial lost over $90,000 to Sunmola. “Retirement should be a happy time,” she wrote to the court. “Instead, I am stressed and broke and working part time jobs at $10 an hour to supplement my income.”

Two victims were present in the courtroom when the sentence was announced. A number of businesses were also defrauded by Sunmola and his associates, who used stolen credit card data from thousands of Americans to make fraudulent purchases online and over the phone. The loss incurred by one computer manufacturer alone was over $800,000.

Even worse than the financial hardships Sunmola caused his victims was the profound emotional and psychological damage he inflicted on them. Many of the women believed they had finally found their true love. A few had even purchased wedding dresses. When the lie was exposed, their worlds collapsed. Some fell into depression. Two victims told the court they had seriously contemplated suicide. Even many years later, a number of Sunmola’s victims remain withdrawn and untrusting, afraid to meet new people or to venture back out on the internet. For at least two women in Illinois, the abuse was also sexual, as Sunmola stole images of their naked bodies, used the images to extort money from them, and then distributed their explicit images on the internet for anyone to see.

At sentencing, the United States argued that the court should depart upward from the range recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, because the crimes Sunmola committed were unusually cruel and caused his victims extreme psychological harm. In support of that argument, the government presented testimony from Monica Whitty, Ph.D., an Australian psychologist who has extensively researched online romance scams from her post at the United Kingdom’s University of Leicester. Whitty testified that, in her expert opinion, the victims had indeed suffered a substantial and severe psychological impact. “They’ve in many ways experienced potentially permanent, life-altering changes in their lives. The long-term effects remain, years and years later.”

United States District Judge David R. Herndon agreed. “‘Conspiracy,’ ‘mail and wire fraud,’ and ‘interstate extortion’ hardly sound like the kinds of crimes that leave broken lives, wrecked women, fractured families, devastation, desires to die, humiliation and shame so extreme,” Judge Herndon said. “But then, his charm turned to bullying, name calling, extortion, unthinkable demands and threats. Thoughts of paradise turned into thoughts of hell and, for some, thoughts of suicide.” Judge Herndon called it “the most devastating crime one could ever imagine without laying hands or even eyes on another human being.”

When Sunmola has completed his 27-year prison term, he will be removed to his native home of Nigeria. For that reason, no term of supervised release was ordered. Imposition of a fine was also waived, in favor of the restitution award. Over $200,000 in proceeds from the sale of Sunmola’s four properties in South Africa has already been turned over to the District Court and will be proportionally disbursed to the individual identified victims. In the meantime, Judge Herndon expressed hope that the significant prison sentence would act as a deterrent for other scam artists, particularly Sunmola’s “underlings”: “When they hear of what sentence the boss received, they will hopefully be incentivized to stop their illegal activity immediately.”

The case was investigated by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Criminals who look for or who expect anonymity of the mail or the borders of a country to protect them when conducting criminal activity are placed on notice today,” said Inspector in Charge E.C. Woodson, Chicago Division U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will go beyond borders to ensure justice is served. Nothing is as painful as a broken heart, and this defendant caused extreme hardship to many of his victims.”

A number of other law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation and prosecution of this case, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service, the London Metropolitan Police Service, and the South African Police Service, which conducted its own extensive investigation into Sunmola’s activities in South Africa and initiated the foreclosure proceedings on his properties.

The case was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office as part of an ongoing partnership between the two offices to identify, investigate and prosecute international scammers who prey on Illinois residents. This prosecution is also part of a larger initiative with the Chicago Office of the Federal Trade Commission to target romance scammers. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan D. Stump, Bruce E. Reppert, and Emily J. Wasserman.


Staff member
Oh, Olayinka, poor crybaby. :(

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
No. 17-1299

OLAYINKA I. SUNMOLA, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.



For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM.

De Master Yoda

Staff member
It looks like Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, will be an old man when he finally gets out of prison. :rolleyes:

I hope he has to serve the full time.

Another image of this low life scamming scumbag.
32-year-old Nigerian Internet fraudster, Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola