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Two sentenced in international online romance fraud scheme, ordered to pay over $500K in restitution

WCCO digital headlines: Morning of Sept. 19, 2023
WCCO digital headlines: Morning of Sept. 19, 2023 01:14

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Charles Obije, 41, and Ijeoma Chanthavong, 36, were sentenced on Monday for their role in stealing money from victims in a romance fraud scheme.

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According to court documents, Obije — a Nigerian native — began using fictitious identities in 2016 to contact victims through email, social media, and online dating services throughout the United States -- including Minnesota -- with the sole purpose of seducing and defrauding them. 

Chanthavong, Obije's sister-in-law and co-conspirator, helped to launder the money defrauded from victims. Obije and Chanthavong continued luring and defrauding victims this way until 2019. Together, they defrauded victims approximately $800,000, said court documents. 

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Obije was sentenced to 14 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit international money laundering on Sept. 13, 2023. Obije was also ordered to paly $356,671 in restitution. 

Chanthavong also pleaded guilty to commit international money laundering and was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $148,500 in restitution on April 19, 2023. 

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