NEWARK, NJ – A Union County man has been arrested at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport for dealing with the proceeds of an elaborate romance scam, Acting Prosecutor Rachael A. Honig announced today.
Eseosa Obaseki, 36, of Linden, New Jersey, is accused of participating in monetary transactions in goods derived from wire fraud. He appeared this afternoon before US Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton in North Texas District Federal Court and has been released into the custody of a third-party custodian pending his initial appearance in the District of New Jersey.
According to the documents filed in this case and the statements made in court:
Obaseki was the owner of MKO Deliveries Inc. (MKO), a New Jersey-based company, and the signatory of a bank account held at Bank-1 (the “Bank-1 Account”). Victim-1 was a resident of Washington. State. Individual-1 was a fictional online character created to defraud Victim-1 and others on online dating and social media applications.
In March or April 2019, Victim-1 was contacted by Individual-1 while playing a pun on the internet. The pair continued the conversation on a separate internet communications platform. Individual-1 and Victim-1 communicated on the platform for months before Individual-1 began asking victim-1 for money in July 2019. Individual-1, under de false pretenses, convinced Victim-1 of his love interest in Victim-1, and in doing so, gained Victim-1’s trust.
In June 2019, Individual-1 used the communication platform to request money from Victim-1. Individual-1 falsely told Victim-1 that the money was for business expenses and the cost of shipping a package containing a “box of valuables” that he said he had. intention to ship to victim-1. Individual-1 sent Victim-1 emails and messages containing fake invoices from a fake shipping company for various fictitious customs charges related to the package.
In January 2020, Individual-1 asked Victim-1 to transfer $ 100,000 to the Bank-1 account, which only contained $ 0.41 at the time. Person-1 falsely told Victim-1 that this payment was for expenses associated with the “box of valuables”. On January 9, 2020, based on Individual-1’s fraudulent claims, representations and promises, Victim-1 arranged to have $ 100,000 transferred from his bank account to the Bank-1 account.
Over the following weeks, Obaseki systematically emptied the Bank-1 account through a series of withdrawals, cashier’s checks and other transactions. For example, on January 15, 2020, Obaseki withdrew $ 12,370 from the Bank-1 account at a branch in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the form of cash, cashier’s checks, and bank charges.
On February 6, 2020, based on the fraudulent claims, representations and promises of individual-1, victim-1 arranged to have $ 210,000 transferred from his bank account to the account of bank-1. Once again, Obaseki systematically emptied the funds from the Bank-1 account through a series of withdrawals, cashier’s checks, and other transactions. For example, on or around February 7, 2020, Obaseki withdrew $ 24,394 from the Bank-1 account at a Newark branch, in the form of cash, cashier’s checks, and bank charges.
Victim-1 has never received any packages from Individual-1, including any package containing the “Valuables Box”. On February 21, 2020, an investigator employed by Bank-1 contacted Obaseki to discuss wire transfers that took place in January and February 2020. In a taped call, Obaseki falsely stated that the recent $ 210,000 wire transfer was from ‘someone he had just started working with in his auto parts business.
Each criminal proceeds transaction charge carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years or double the amount of crime-derived property involved in the transaction.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig has assigned FBI Special Agents, under the direction of George M. Crouch Jr., the investigation that led to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Deputy US Prosecutors Shawn Barnes and Jonathan Fayer of the Economic Crimes Unit of the US Attorney’s Office in Newark.
The charge and the allegations contained in the complaint are only charges and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.