Millville, NJ, Man Admits His Role in an Online Romance Fraud Scheme
A man from Millville has admitted to his role in an online romance fraud scheme that spanned multiple countries, involved fake members of the military, and fake gold bars.
37-year-old Rubbin Sarpong pleaded guilty on Tuesday, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig, to conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiring to commit money laundering, and tax evasion charges.
He now potentially faces over 20 years in prison and he has agreed to pay back $1.76 million in restitution and over $387,000 in taxes owed to the IRS.
Honig's office says,
From January 2016 to Sept. 3, 2019, Sarpong and his conspirators, several of whom reside in Ghana, allegedly participated in an online romance scheme, defrauding victims in New Jersey and elsewhere. Sarpong and the conspirators set up dating profiles on various dating websites, using fictitious or stolen identities and posing as United States military personnel who were stationed overseas. They contacted victims through the dating websites and then pretended to strike up a romantic relationship with them.
After the relationships were established, often under the illusion that members of the military in Syria had received bars of gold, the fraudsters asked the victims for money, often to supposedly pay to ship those bars back to the United States. Once in America, the victims were told they would get their money back.
Meanwhile, with the money, which totaled over $1.1 million from victims, authorities say Sarpong bought property in Ghana and posted pictures to social media of him with, "large amounts of cash, high-end cars, designer clothing and expensive jewelry."
Authorities have been able to identify at least 40 people that fell for the scam.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 21st, 2022.