Crime

‘Serious hustler’: Nigerian fraudster who pretended to be spy from Mascoutah admits romantic cons

A Nigerian man who pretended he was a spy from the metro-east and swindled women out of thousands of dollars in online romance schemes has pleaded guilty to eight federal charges, according to federal prosecutors.

Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, 32, of Lagos, Nigeria, initially pleaded not guilty to the eight charges listed in a 30-page indictment filed in November 2013. He pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Sunmola admitted to targeting women from the St. Louis area — including some from the metro-east — by sending them gifts, cultivating romantic relationships with them and getting them to send him large sums of money.

‘Jane Doe 6’

In one scheme, Sunmola admitted he created a MySpace profile under the name “Major Elias K. Dye,” an active duty U.S. Army intelligence officer stationed at Scott Air Force Base but on assignment in South Africa. He cultivated a relationship with a woman from Mascoutah, telling her his wife died in a tragic car crash and that his young daughter was in the care of neighbors in a small town in Illinois.

This subterfuge was necessary...to protect the fact that (Sunmola) was a ‘spy’

Federal indictment against Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola

The 2013 indictment stated: “After the romantic relationship with (Jane Doe 6) had been nurtured for several weeks, ‘Dye’ started his pleas for money. The government funds he had been provided had run out...and he no longer had the means to buy food.”

The woman wired money to another man Sunmola said was a local taxi driver. “This subterfuge was necessary...to protect the fact that (Sunmola) was a ‘spy,’” the indictment stated.

Sunmola also talked the woman into posing seductively in front of a web camera, an event he recorded without her knowing. He demanded more cash from the woman, threatening to distribute a link to the video.

‘Cash advances’

In another scheme, Sunmola used the alias “Elias Dyess” on a dating website to cultivate a relationship with a woman from Bond County. He posed as an experienced world traveler who was stranded in South Africa because his credit cards were not accepted there.

As the relationship progressed, Sunmola convinced the woman to cash checks he would send her and then wire the money back to him in South Africa. The checks were counterfeit.

When Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola’s victims ran up credit card debt by sending him cash advances, Sunmola promised he’d pay them back. Sometimes he did — using a hacked bank account from California.

He also convinced her to open a credit card account to send him cash advances. The woman’s credit card balance ballooned, but Sunmola promised to pay it off. According to the indictment: “He actually did pay it off on several occasions, but each time he did so he used a hacked bank account at a California university.”

When the woman got suspicious, Sunmola told her he would not pay down her credit card balances as he promised he would “as pay back.” The woman’s debt totaled $98,000 and she was forced to file for bankruptcy.

‘Serious hustler’

Sunmola often scoured the internet in search of stolen debit card numbers and bank logins, sending emails to people he hoped would sell him the stolen information.

One such email read: “Man i think we can do some serious business together and make cool cash, i am very much interested in the skimmed debit cards and the (U.S.) bank logins. What are ur terms, pricing and payment options. I am a serious hustler and i am not into games, i know there are so many players out there these days.”

i am very much interested in the skimmed debit cards and the (U.S.) bank logins. ... I am a serious hustler and i am not into games

Email sent by Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola

The eight charges against Sunmola included conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and interstate extortion.

Sunmola will be sentenced June 17. He faces a maximum prison term of 127 years, fines of $250,000 for each count and must also pay restitution. He also faces up to five years on parole if he’s still alive when he leaves prison.

Tobias Wall: 618-239-2501, @Wall_BND

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