EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) – The leader of a group operating in South Africa that targeted and stole from hundreds of women across the United States has pleaded guilty to fraud charges in an Illinois federal court.
The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday that 32-year-old Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola of Nigeria pleaded guilty to fraud and interstate extortion in East St. Louis.
Sunmola, who was indicted in 2013, was arrested in 2014 by Scotland Yard as he was boarding a flight from London to South Africa.
Prosecutors say as part of the scheme, Sunmola created bogus online profiles in which he claimed to be an American citizen or a former U.S. soldier and wooed women with flowers, stuffed animals and candy.
Prosecutors say after he gained the women’s trust, Sunmola began to claim a series of phony, emergencies for which he needed cash.
Sunmola’s sentencing is scheduled for June 27.