DC auditor, contractor involved in romance scam, prosecutors say
There were 21 alleged victims.
“If you end up in an online relationship and you’re being asked for a lot of money, it’s probably fraud, not love,” said Erek L. Barron, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, in a press release.
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Egunjobi, 48, of Waldorf, has been charged with money laundering, while his accused co-conspirator Isidore Iwuagwu, 35, of Upper Marlboro, faces one count of conspiracy to commit the money laundering, according to charging documents. If found guilty, Egunjobi faces a maximum of five years in prison, while Iwaugwu could face a sentence of up to 20 years.
Egunjobi’s attorney declined to comment, and Iwuagwu’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Federal prosecutors say Iwuagwu began the romance scam in October 2015 and continued through July 2021. In one scam, an elderly woman living in Mesa, Arizona received a request for Facebook friend of a man named “Gerrald Burns”, according to a criminal complaint.
Burns told the woman he was an Army lieutenant commander stationed at a US base and had photos of him dressed in a military uniform, according to charging documents. Burns professed his love for the woman, and she reciprocated.
He told the victim in July 2021 that he was being transferred to Djibouti, according to a criminal complaint. Burns eventually sent a message to the woman that her unit had executed a raid on a terrorist organization, recovering millions in cash and gold.
Burns told the woman he wanted to share the wealth with her, but said she had to pay a logistics company $67,000 to help send the silver and gold back to the United States, according to the criminal complaint.
The woman attempted to send the money to an account opened by Iwuagwu, but the banks involved in the transfer concluded it was a scam and reversed the transfer, according to the criminal complaint. Investigators also determined that there was no Gerrald Burns in the United States Armed Forces.
Other victims sent tens of thousands of dollars and one victim lost $300,000, according to court records.
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Iwuagwu worked as a contractor for the Ministry of Justice, where he provided security for the facilities. He also carried a gun and had the authority to arrest people in DC because he was deputized as the Special Assistant U.S. Marshal.
Egunjobi told investigators he received American money from Iwuagwu and gave the man Nigerian money in return, according to criminal complaints. Egunjobi is also accused of having received thousands of dollars directly from one of the victims.
The DC CFO’s office, where Egunjobi worked, initially declined to comment, citing the pending criminal case against him. The office later confirmed that Egunjobi had worked as a tax auditor with his agency since 2009 and was on administrative leave amid an ongoing investigation.
Egunjobi has worked for the DC government for nearly 14 years, according to an online resume. He said he conducts audits, reviews payroll and makes recommendations on tax liability, among other functions.