Marietta man who ran $5M romance scam gets 13-year prison sentence

The woman who fell victim to the online romance scam transferred millions out of a trust set up for her children.
Caption
The woman who fell victim to the online romance scam transferred millions out of a trust set up for her children.

Credit: File photo

A Cobb County man who committed financial fraud worth millions, including a romance scam that defrauded a Virginia woman out of more than $5 million, has been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison.

Nnamdi Marcellus MgBodile, 37, of Marietta, was convicted on 20 counts of bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud by a federal jury in May, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Kurt Erskine said in a news release.

“As evidenced by the length of the prison sentence in this case, fraud is a heinous crime that can destroy people’s lives,” U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Steven Baisel said in the release.

According to Erskine, MgBodile ran a fraud ring that included at least five other people and sham companies with bank accounts in Georgia, New York and California. One of the people who aided MgBodile is the former employee of a bank who he bribed to continue opening accounts for him even after others had been closed for fraud.

MgBodile used those accounts to launder money he acquired through various scams, Erskine said, including the romance scam that involved siphoning millions of dollars from a trust controlled by a Virginia woman meant to benefit her children.

ExploreMarietta man indicted in online romance scam that cost Virginia woman $6.5 million

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.

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