A man involved in a scheme that cost a Lexington woman approximately $200,000 was sentenced to 60 months in prison on Friday.
Adedunmole Gbadegesin, a Nigerian citizen, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy in September, according to court documents. A charge of wire fraud was dropped in the plea deal.
Prior to the final sentencing determination, Gbadegesin told the court he has accepted guilt for his actions and has moved on. He said he did what he did to feed his family but was apologetic for his actions.
Gbadegesin’s lawyer asked for a 36-month prison sentence while the prosecution recommended 63 months. U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell ultimately decided a 60-month sentence was appropriate along with a forfeiture of $38,000.
Gbadegesin was given credit for time served. He has been in custody since September 2021 when he was arrested in Nigeria.
Restitution for the case will be determined at a later date, as Caldwell wanted more time to review the entirety of the case.
Upon release from prison, Gbadegesin will be on supervised release for three years. It was also recommended that he participate in vocational programs while incarcerated.
Gbadegesin was part of a “romance scheme” that attempted to steal money from people on the internet. The conspirators would set up fake online profiles on dating websites then lure victims — many of them older women — into thinking they were in a relationship and milk them for money.
Three other conspirators, all of whom are from Nigeria but lived in the United States at the time, worked with Gbadegesin, who concealed the nature, source ownershop and control of the funds sent from the victims, according to court documents.
In one example of the scam, a Lexington woman in her 70s sent $200,000 to an account she believed was her boyfriend, but it was really one of the conspirators. She also took out a home-equity loan and wasn’t suspicious of the scam until the conspirator asked her to take out a second home-equity loan.
Another woman in western Kentucky lost $183,000 after being duped into believing her payments would qualify her for a grant.
Gbadegesin was indicted in October 2020. He was brought into federal custody in April when FBI special agents flew with him from Nigeria to Atlanta and then to Blue Grass Airport.
Three others have pleaded guilty in connection with the fraud: Ismaila Fafunmi, 36, who was sentenced to four years and three months in prison; Livingstone Otunuya Ineh Eqwem, who was sentenced to two years in prison; and Olatunbosun Oluwakayode Ajayi, 39, who was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Fafunmi lived in Indianapolis, Eqwem lived in Texas and Ajayi lived in Indianapolis and the Atlanta area at different times.
Federal authorities caution against sending money to people you’ve only had contact with by telephone or over the internet.
Herald-Leader staff writer Bill Estep contributed to this report.