CAMDEN — A man who helped dupe dozens into sending millions of dollars to people posing as U.S. military personnel in an online dating scheme has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
Rubbin Sarpong, 38, of Millville, New Jersey, must also pay more than $3 million in restitution to 36 victims under the sentence imposed Tuesday, as well as more than $385,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. He had pleaded guilty last November to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and tax evasion counts.
Federal prosecutors say the scheme ran from January 2016 to September 2019. They say Sarpong and his co-conspirators, several of whom live in Ghana, set up phony profiles on online dating sites using fictitious or stolen identities and posing as U.S. military personnel.
They eventually pretended to forge romantic relationships with at least 40 victims overall and sought money from them, often purportedly to ship gold bars to the United States. The conspirators told many victims that their money would be returned once the gold bars were received in the United States, but instead it was withdrawn in cash, wired to other domestic bank accounts and to other conspirators in Ghana.
Sarpong received roughly $1.14 million in taxable income from the scheme but didn’t file income tax returns and paid no income tax, prosecutors said.
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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey
A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.
From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.
Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.
If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.
Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.
You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.
Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.
Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.
I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions: