This is the story of three men who were sentenced for stealing $750K from a Kentucky woman in a military dating scam.
Pulling off the U.S. military dating scam
Using fraud and deceit, Thomas D. Inkoom of Newark, Kahad A. Wuupini of Auburn and Baaki Abdul Majeed of Tacoma used promises of love and romance to entice a Kentucky woman into an online dating scam that would see her lose over $750,000 of her money. The scam involved often persuading her to send money, personal and financial information, and items of value to a man she believed was an Army sergeant named James Nehmer.
After getting cashier’s checks, personal checks and cash from the victim, the trio laundered the money from Washington state and New Jersey to Ghana. They purchased cars, shipped them to Ghana and then obtained cashier’s checks and wired money to each other as well as other unnamed individuals in both countries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Kentucky.
According to the victim, she believed she was in a relationship with Sgt. James Nehmer and that she was sending money for an investment in gold and silver. Nothing like that existed. Meanwhile, loved ones just watched her throw away good money. Nobody could awaken her to the fact that she was being scammed. Investigators reported that at times the checks were as big as $$95,000. The three scammers had created businesses to facilitate the receipt of that money.
Military dating scammer sentenced
Majeed, Wuupini, and Inkoom were indicted in August 2019. James Robert Brown, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Louisville Field Office, said during the case, “The defendants in this case not only deceived a vulnerable individual, but then proceeded to engage in multiple money laundering schemes in order to conceal their original scam. The FBI will not stand for fraudsters who seek to gain financially by preying upon the “heartstrings” of Americans.”
Wuupini and Inkoom pleaded guilty to the money laundering conspiracy in March 2020 and were sentenced on Friday, October 30, 2020, by Chief U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves. The court sentenced Wuupini to 79 months in prison and must pay $757,000 in restitution, while Inkoom got 19 months in prison and was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. Under federal law, both must serve 85 percent of their prison sentences and will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for 3 years, following their release.
Baaki Abdul Majeed was convicted of wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and five counts of transactional money laundering. Chief U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Majeed to six years in federal prison and ordered him to pay $757,000 in restitution.
Scams targeting military members (and even their families) are on the rise. In fact, the number of identity theft reports from service members is much higher when compared to non-military consumers, according to ZeroFox Research. From 2017 to June 30, 2021, the FTC received over 800,000 consumer reports from service members, including veterans, active duty, reservists and their families. Total losses tally up to $822.1M, with 420,697 of these reports related to fraud. According to the FBI’s 2020 iC3 report, 12,827 government-specific impersonations alone were reported – an increase of nearly 40 percent since 2017. When it comes to military romance scams, in particular, a threat actor often poses as a service member in online dating forums (or otherwise) looking to build a trusted relationship. Once a victim is hooked, soliciting money for various service-related needs begins, ranging from transportation, communication, and medical expenses to marriage processing fees.
military dating scam, online military dating scheme, Baaki Abdul Majeed, James Nehmer, Kahad A. Wuupini, Kentucky, Thomas D. Inkoom