Linden, NJ man stole over $300K in ‘romance scam,’ feds say
A New Jersey man allegedly asked an online victim to transfer amounts of $100,000 or more to him, on more than one occasion, under false romantic pretenses and the promise of a "box of valuables," according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.
Eseosa Obaseki, 36, of Linden, was arrested at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and made an initial court appearance in Texas on Monday, then was released pending his first court appearance in New Jersey.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig, in a release, said Obaseki, the owner of New Jersey-based MKO Deliveries Inc., made the acquaintance of the victim, a female Washington state resident, on an internet-based word game in the spring of 2019. That summer, over a separate, internet-based communications platform, Obaseki is alleged to have begun asking the victim for money, building trust by showing romantic interest in the victim.
According to the complaint, Obaseki further stated that the money would be for business expenses and shipping costs associated with a "box of valuables" he intended to send to the victim.
On Jan. 9, 2020, the victim arranged for a $100,000 wire transfer into a bank account held by Obaseki, which only had $0.41 in it at the time. A second wire transfer, of $210,000, was made on Feb. 6, 2020.
The complaint alleges that Obaseki systematically drained his account following both transfers through a series of withdrawals, including $12,370 taken out of a bank branch in Elizabeth on Jan. 15, 2020, and $24,394 from a Newark branch on Feb. 7, 2020.
The victim reported that she never received any sort of package from Obaseki, such as the promised "box of valuables."
On Feb. 21, 2020, an investigator employed by the bank holding Obaseki's account interviewed him by phone about the wire transfers, during which call the U.S. Attorney's Office said Obaseki falsely stated the $210,000 transfer had come from someone working with him at his car part business.
Obaseki is charged with engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from wire fraud, punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison for each offense or twice the amount of the criminally derived property.