CHARLESTON, WV (KMTV) — Abdul Osumanu, 26, is a professional soccer player with Union Omaha who is named as a defendant in a fraud case with eight other individuals.
Osumanu, an alumnus of Marshall University in West Virginia, is listed in a news release from the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia as allegedly participating in a romance scam.
Authorities said the alleged schemes defrauded at least 200 victims, many of whom were elderly, of at least $2.5 million.
The nine defendants were charged with various fraud-related crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and receipt of stolen property.
“According to the indictments, from 2016 to 2020, the defendants allegedly participated in a series of romance and other online scams designed to coerce vulnerable victims into sending money to various bank accounts controlled by them,” a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Virginia reads.
“The indictments describe romance scams as online schemes that target individuals looking for romantic partners, friendship, and other close personal and business relationships on dating websites and other social media platforms. The defendants created profiles using fictitious names, locations, and images which allowed them to cultivate relationships with the victims. To carry out the schemes alleged in the indictments, victims were often led to believe that the defendants were U.S. residents working abroad,” said the U.S. Attorney's office.
Authorities said an investigation revealed that those financial transactions were actually located in the United States.
“At the early stages of the romance scams, defendants frequently requested relatively small gifts, such as gift cards and cell phones from their victims,” a news release read. “As the relationships continued, they requested increasingly larger sums of money from their victims. The defendants allegedly opened bank accounts and laundered the proceeds of the romance scams through those accounts.”
Authorities also said those charged would sometimes use cryptocurrency and celebrity meet-and-greet scams to obtain money from their victims.
Union Omaha released a statement on its Facebook page on Wednesday.
"Last Thursday afternoon, Union Omaha became aware of a pending legal action involving one of our players," a post read. "We are currently gathering information and are fully cooperating with authorities."
Authorities said crimes involving romance scams are becoming more common and those who commit them will be aggressively pursued.
“This investigation and subsequent indictments demonstrate the commitment the United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners have in aggressively pursuing those who engage in online fraud scams and prey on vulnerable members of our communities,” said Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston. “Crimes involving romance scams and other online scams are increasing at an alarming rate. This case is a reminder that users of email, texts and social media should be aware of such scams and exercise extreme caution.”
In addition to Osumanu, the following eight people were charged in the indictments.
- Kenneth Emeni, 29, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Martinsburg, West Virginia
- John Nassy, 27, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in a suburb of Washington, D.C.
- Kenneth Ogudu, also known as Kenneth Lee, 28, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Columbus, Ohio
- Oluwagbenga Harrison, 30, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Stone Mountain, Georgia;
- Romello Thorpe, 25, a United States citizen, residing in Washington, D.C.
- Ouluwabamishe Awolesi, also known as Oluwabamise Johnson, 28, a citizen of Nigeria and the United States, residing in Beltsville, Maryland
- Augustine Amechi, 24, a citizen of Nigeria, residing in Huntington, West Virginia; and
- Banabas Ganidekam, 24, a citizen of Ghana, residing in Westerville, Ohio