COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A man has been sentenced by a U.S. District court after being accused of laundering more than $2 million in online romance scams that were conducted for four years.
According to the office of U.S. attorney Kenneth Parker of the Southern District of Ohio, 49-year-old Maximus Adiele was sentenced to five years in prison for participating in a money laundering conspiracy.
Adiele, who was born in Nigeria and became a naturalized American citizen in 2015, is said to have laundered $2.3 million from 2017 to 2020. Court documents say unidentified perpetrators fabricated online relationships and manipulated victims, mostly elderly, to send money to one of Adiele’s 12 bank accounts. The attorney’s office says there were at least 17 victims and many of them lost their life savings.
Court documents state Adiele used his international car dealing business to wire money to individuals in Nigeria, wiring $1.2 million of the money he received through the online romance scams. He pleaded guilty in November to money laundering and submitted a false tax return.
In addition to his prison time, Adiele was ordered to pay more than $965,000 in restitution to victims and a little over $64,000 to the IRS.