BOSTON — A Boston man was sentenced Monday for his role in defrauding 30 victims of more than $1.3 million through online scams, including romance and advance fee scams.
Kelechi Collins Umeh, 40, of Boston and formerly of Quincy, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge William G. Young to 40 months in prison and two years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said in a statement. Umeh was also ordered to pay restitution of $878,652.
In January 2023, Umeh pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud conspiracy.
Umeh participated in a series of online scams – including romance and advance fee schemes – designed to defraud victims into sending money to accounts controlled by him and his co-conspirators, Levy said.
Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim.
Advance fee scams occur when a criminal asks a victim to pay a fee up front – usually described as a fee, tax, or commission – in order to obtain a bigger payout later, but that payout never occurs.
Umeh used fake passports in the names of numerous aliases to open bank accounts in and around Boston to collect and launder the proceeds of the online scams, Levy said. Umeh and co-conspirators then rapidly made large cash withdrawals from those accounts, often within days of the deposit and generally structured in amounts less than $10,000, in an effort to evade detection and currency transaction reporting requirements.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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