Ringleader of gang using romance scams on elderly sentenced to 20 years in prison
COLLEYVILLE, Texas - A North Texas man will spend the next 20 years behind bars for leading a gang of criminals that allegedly used "sweetheart scams" on elderly victims across the country and sent the money to Nigeria.
According to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, 43-year-old Ifeanyichukwu Festus Obi was one of four people arrested following a 17-month, multi-agency task force investigation.
Ifeanyichukwu Festus Obi
Prosecutors said Obi was the ringleader in a gang known as the "Yahoo Boys."
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During court hearings, it was revealed that the group is connected to callers in Nigeria who scam the elderly into sending money to their online love interest.
"These Nigerian scammers are calling our retired-elderly population all through the night, waking them up, stressing them out and compelling them to send their money far and wide," said Assistant Criminal District Attorney Lori Varnell, who prosecuted the case.
Obi sent $1.32 million in stolen money to Nigeria in just two months in 2019, prosecutors said.
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They said his 20-year prison sentence for theft and engaging in criminal activity reflects the vast amount of money he was laundering overseas.
"This sentence sends a clear message. Tarrant County is not the place to bring your criminal enterprises," said Criminal District Attorney Phil Sorrells.
"A sentence this significant for a financial crime sends a message that Tarrant County will not tolerate those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens. Today, justice was served," Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller added.
Prosecutors are still working cases against the other three members of the "Yahoo Boys."