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U.S. marshal from Maryland accused in multi-million dollar romance scam

BALTIMORE -- A special deputy U.S. marshal and Justice Department contractor from Maryland faces a federal charge over his alleged role in a romance scam targeting more than 20 victims, authorities said.

Isodore Iwuagwu, 35, of Upper Marlboro, appeared in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to face a federal charge of conspiring to commit money laundering related to numerous online romance scams, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release.

Iwuagwu, identified by authorities as a special deputy U.S. marshal and Justice Department contractor who does security work for the agency's facilities, is accused of playing a role in a romance scam over the course of more than five years.

Between October 2015 and July 2021, individuals struck up relationships with victims online by posing as U.S. service members who were in financial binds, prosecutors said. Many victims of the alleged scam were senior citizens.

Prosecutors said victims linked to Iwuagwu reported losing a combined $1.9 million as a result. Charging documents state that Iwuagwu controlled 30 financial accounts, receiving about $1.65 million in wire transfers from 119 individuals, and about $1.138 million in other deposits.

In one case, a victim sent more than $300,000 to someone she thought was the attorney for a supposed Major General in the U.S. Army. In reality, the money went to Iwuagwu, prosecutors said. In another case, a victim sent nearly $52,000 to someone she thought was a doctor.

Iwuagwu is accused of wiring more than $1.5 million from his accounts, $200,000 of which went to a Nigerian company, and withdrawing over $500,000 through ATM and cash withdrawals.

Iwuagwu faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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