A man who helped dupe dozens into sending millions of dollars to people posing as U.S. military personnel in an online dating scheme has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
Rubbin Sarpong, 38, of Millville, New Jersey, must also pay more than $3 million in restitution to 36 victims under the sentence imposed Tuesday, as well as more than $385,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. He had pleaded guilty last November to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and tax evasion counts.
Federal prosecutors say the scheme ran from January 2016 to September 2019. They say Sarpong and his co-conspirators, several of whom live in Ghana, set up phony profiles on online dating sites using fictitious or stolen identities and posing as U.S. military personnel.
They eventually pretended to forge romantic relationships with at least 40 victims overall and sought money from them, often purportedly to ship gold bars to the United States. The conspirators told many victims that their money would be returned once the gold bars were received in the United States, but instead it was withdrawn in cash, wired to other domestic bank accounts and to other conspirators in Ghana.
Sarpong received roughly $1.14 million in taxable income from the scheme but didn’t file income tax returns and paid no income tax, prosecutors said.