Romance Scam Victim Wants To Warn Others


Online Dating | Image by Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

After falling prey to scammers and losing tens of thousands of dollars, one Colleyville woman hopes her misfortune will act as a warning to other potential victims.

The 70-year-old woman was one of the dozens targeted in a massive online romance scam that resulted in more than $1 million sent from people in North Texas to Nigeria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

As The Dallas Express previously reported, the alleged ringleader, 43-year-old Ifeanyichukwu Festus Obi, was arrested earlier this month together with 35-year-old Olusegun Odunwole from Fort Worth, 33-year-old Saheed Akinyemi from Haslet, and 43-year-old Obianuju Orakposim from Arlington.

They were brought to justice after a 17-month investigation involving the Colleyville Police Department, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspector, and Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office uncovered the alleged scam.

These kinds of scammers are popularly known as “yahoo-boys,” according to U.S. News World Report. Often enrolled as undergraduates at Nigerian universities, these young con artists troll online dating websites and social network sites, along with running phishing and ATM fraud schemes.

The woman who recently fell victim to yahoo-boys in North Texas spoke to Fox 4 about her experience. According to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, the widow lost a total of $75,000. She thought that she had found love but instead was duped.

“I fell for it. It’s embarrassing. I’m not a stupid person, but believe me, they have got their act together,” the victim told Fox 4.

The scammer spoke to the woman for weeks, telling her that money from his work was delayed and convincing her that he needed a temporary loan to get by in the meantime.

“It was such a big deal that I even had my church ladies praying for it,” she explained.

As Lori Varnell, assistant criminal district attorney, explained in a statement, “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.”

As the victim told Fox 4, the scammers “Pulled every heartstring [that] they possibly could pull … You just get sucked into it.”

She advises others to be wary when speaking to strangers online, especially if someone asks for money. When in doubt, report it to your loved ones or the authorities. Don’t let anyone pressure you into acting too quickly.

The elderly are a frequent target of scammers. Over 92,000 victims aged 60 and up reported $1.7 billion in losses to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2021.

Dallas Police Department has a special unit dealing with elder fraud.

There are many different kinds of scams being run across the country, including in Dallas. There have been a total of 406 crimes against property logged this year by DPD, according to its dashboard. Of these, 294 were offenses of fraud.

Suspected incidents of fraud can be reported to Dallas County here or to DPD here.

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16 days ago

Im glad These IDIOT’S were SCAMMED.

Reply to  Michael
16 days ago

Michael. You have no idea the pain these people who have been scammed have. It is like a knife in your heart every day. Thank God, I finally got passed it, but it was not easy. I hope you are never scammed (I thought I was too smart to be scammed)….it is painful. But, thanks for your wonderful words of encouragement.