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Two Brothers Sentenced for Online Dating Scams

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Dating app or site on mobile phone screen. | Image by Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

Two brothers have each been handed a 37-month sentence for using online dating platforms to empty the bank accounts of vulnerable women in North Texas.

Emanuel Stanley Orji, 36, and Frederick Orji, 38, were arrested and charged with federal crimes related to their taking advantage of elderly women on dating sites like Match.com and Bumble.

Emanuel pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and was sentenced to just over three years in federal prison on Monday. He was also ordered to pay $418,030 in restitution to his victims.

His brother Frederick faced identical charges. According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, he pleaded guilty and received the same sentence in December.

The Orji brothers “ingratiated themselves with their victims, they concocted sob-stories about why they needed money -– i.e., taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc. –- and then siphoned money from victim’s accounts, tens of thousands of dollars at a time,” stated the release.

The “catfishes” reportedly had ties to a Nigerian organized crime syndicate that was active in the United States. The syndicate was taken down following an inter-agency investigation by federal and local law enforcement that led to dozens of federal indictments.

Authorities believe the scam was run by the Orji brothers and their co-conspirators between January 24, 2017, and July 11, 2017, during which time the scammers reportedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from women.

Online dating has become the norm for many singles looking for that special someone, but it can be a potentially dangerous networking tool.

The FBI estimated that more than 20,000 people in the United States lost more than $600 million in romance scams in 2020.

Given the circumstances, dating sites are increasingly taking precautions to warn users of these financial predators.

Match Group, the parent company of popular online dating services like Match, Tinder, and Hinge, recently launched a global campaign to raise awareness of the issue and educate users on how to date safely. Users now receive messages giving them tips on what to look out for when connecting with new people.

The Orji brothers were tried along with nine co-conspirators in North Texas, but while their operation may have been disrupted, they are far from the only scammers operating in the region.

The Dallas Express has reported on recent cases of phone scams, online scams, and card skimming scams committed against North Texans.

Those living in the area should be aware of the various kinds of fraud in operation to avoid being a victim, especially those living within Dallas city limits. In 2022, the city saw more than 2,500 reported incidents of identity theft, confidence scams, credit card fraud, and other related crimes, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime analytics dashboard.

The city continues to struggle with its crime problem, despite the best efforts of law enforcement, with the city council seemingly unable to get a handle on the issue.

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