SJ couple’s ‘romance scam’ nets $6M from 33 victims, feds say
A Maple Shade couple was charged with scamming at least 33 people they met on dating apps and websites out of more than $6 million.
Martins Friday Inalegwu, 31, and Steincy Mathieu, 24, struck up fake relationships with their victims and corresponded with them through email addresses and phone numbers, according to federal investigators.
Eventually, they requested money be sent to them for fictitious emergency needs including customs fees, taxes and medical and travel expenses between October 2016 and May 2020, federal officials said.
In at least three cases, Inalegwu and Mathieu got application fees and security deposits sent to them for rentals they didn't control only to never communicate with them again, according to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
According to complaint filed in U.S. District Court of New Jersey, $3.1 million was sent directly to Inalegwu and Mathieu, who spent the money on personal expenses, withdrew cash, transferred money to other bank accounts they personally controlled, and transferred money to bank accounts held by conspirators in Nigeria and Turkey.
The other $2.9 million went to other unidentified co-conspirators.
Inalegwu was arrested and arraigned on Tuesday while Mathieu remains at large.