The woman connected with MgBodile in November 2017 through an online dating site, where he had created a fake profile with the name “James Deere,” Erskine said. The woman, who had signatory authority on a “sizeable trust,” was tricked into believing the two had a romantic relationship as they communicated over email. Deere told her he wanted to live with her and start a life together, but he first had to resolve some urgent business.
MgBodile, posing as Deere, told the woman he was on the verge of receiving a large windfall from a client, but he needed a “representative partner” with an account where the funds could be deposited to avoid a conflict of interest. Through this entirely fraudulent scenario, MgBodile was able to lure the woman into granting him access to the trust.
In January and February 2018, MgBodile and others made several requests for the woman to pay various made-up taxes and fees, and she complied. In total, she made about 25 transfers totaling more than $5 million, Erskine said. Once the money was transferred to accounts controlled by MgBodile, he wired the funds to different overseas accounts.
Alongside the romance scam, MgBodile ran multiple business email compromise (BEC) scams that attempted to defraud companies out of more than $1 million, Erskine said. The BEC scams involved sending spoof emails to employees at the target businesses that appeared to come from a legitimate business partner. The emails would request a change in payment terms, like asking for funds to be wired to a new account rather than through an automated clearing house.
Using BEC scams and posing as a business lender, MgBodile attempted to defraud a Georgia company out of $350,000 and an Alabama company out of $800,000, Erskine said.
Following MgBodile’s 13-year federal prison sentence, he will face five years of supervised release. MgBodile was indicted in November 2019 and convicted in May after an eight-day trial.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is encouraging anyone interested in further information on romance scams, phone scams, mass-mailing fraud schemes and tech-support fraud schemes to visit www.justice.gov/elderjustice/senior-scam-alert.