A former New Bedford man charged with defrauding victims and laundering over a half a million dollars obtained in “romance scams” has been extradited back to the United States from the United Kingdom to face charges.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chukwunonso “Douglas” Umegbo, 37, was arrested in London, England on April 4, 2002 and extradited to the U.S. on February 10, 2023. Umegbo, a former New Bedford resident, also goes by the aliases James Abbott, Michael Phillips and Richard Armani.

Umegbo was indicted in February 2021 on six counts of making a false statement to a bank, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering. He made an initial appearance in federal court in Boston on February 13 of this year.

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According to the charging documents, from 2018 through 2019, Umegbo opened bank accounts in the greater Boston area using fake identity documents. Those bank accounts were allegedly used to receive funds from a number of victims in romance scams.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office described romance scams as scams “in which perpetrators create fictitious online personas to develop online romantic relationships with individuals in the U.S., and then leverage those relationships to obtain money and/or property.”

The charging documents allege Umegbo then withdrew cash from those accounts, and either spent the money or used it to purchase cashier’s checks, with the accounts receiving a total of more than $560,000.

Umegbo is facing sentences of:

Up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million for the charge of making a false statement to a bank

Up to 20 year in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater, for the charge of wire fraud

Up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property, for the charge of money laundering

He is currently detained pending a hearing set for March 2.

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