PROVIDENCE – A Texas man who allegedly participated in a conspiracy where one member posed as a high-ranking military officer stationed overseas while befriending and gaining the trust of seniors in at least ten states, including Rhode Island, has been charged in federal court in Rhode Island with bilking seniors out of nearly one million dollars, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
Fola Alabi, aka Folayemi Alabi, 51, was arrested at his Richmond, Texas, home on Tuesday, and charged by way of a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Providence with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud; wire fraud; mail fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering; money laundering; Alabi was also charged under the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams Act of 1994, which provides for enhanced penalties for telemarketing fraud that targets or victimizes persons over age 55.
An investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, FBI, United States Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Attorney’s Office determined that Alabi allegedly bilked seniors out of at least $915,301.
It is alleged in charging documents that one member of the conspiracy befriended unsuspecting seniors online, often posing as a General in the U.S. military serving overseas; or, as a family member offering an investment opportunity. It is alleged that this conspirator, feigning to have a personal, and sometimes romantic, interest in his victims, convinced his victims to send substantial sums of money, usually in the form of bank checks or cash, to addresses and companies in Texas controlled by Alabi or an individual associated with him. It is alleged that once received, the money was deposited into one of several bank accounts controlled by Alabi and quickly withdrawn or transferred to other accounts.
It is alleged that among Alabi’s victims is a 78-year-old Rhode Island widow who was persuaded by someone claiming to be “General Miller,” purportedly a four-star General currently overseas, to provide $60,000 to finance shipment of his personal belongings to the United States. At “General Miller’s” direction, a check was made payable to Full Circle Import Exports and mailed to a Texas address that was determined by investigators to be Alabi’s residence. It is further alleged that the victim was prepared to send a second, and significantly larger sum of money to “General Miller,” when it was determined by her bank and the Westerly Police Department that she was likely being defrauded.
The federal criminal complaint filed in this matter is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. In addition to the criminal charges announced today, the government has seized several bank accounts associated with the defendant’s alleged criminal activity and a 2010 Mercedes Benz registered to Alabi.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ly T. Chin.
United States Attorney Cunha thanks the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Unit; the Westerly, RI, and Prescott Valley, AZ, Police Departments; Texas Department of Public Safety; West Virginia State Police; and the Santa Clara, CA, County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the investigation of this matter.