Feds say romance scammer laundered cash in Chicago
Match.com bills itself as the number one destination for online dating.
But in federal court in Chicago Tuesday was the story of a Match.com relationship gone wrong and a woman who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to her expected fiancé.
According to a federal complaint, a California woman says she met a man named "George Lewis" on Match.com. Over the next two years, desperate for a relationship, she says she loaned him over $200,000. It wasn't easy, her payments included proceeds from a $100,000 home equity loan, $6,000 she borrowed from her son and $15,000 borrowed from her mother.
But she never met George Lewis in person, and on their planned wedding day, guess what? He never showed up. Investigators now believe Lewis wasn't just borrowing cash from the woman, he used her as what's called a "money mule" to transfer money he had stolen from another victim to Chicago.
Lewis allegedly had her wire $85,000 to a company called Rephaiah Trading. That company's got the same address as this a dealership on Chicago's West Side. Prosecutors say the man who runs this dealership received the transfer and then moved it to another account. His name is Kolade Oloba and he's now charged with money laundering.
Oloba's attorney says his client is a victim, just like that woman who met her supposed lover on Match.com.
“He owns a legitimate business here in Chicago, and he's involved in imports and exports, and as far as I can tell, the government's going to have a hard time proving he had any knowledge of that scam or involvement in it,” said defense attorney Robert Kerr.
Oloba was ordered moved to California where the complaint against him was filed.