BOSTON (WBSM) — A former New Bedford man pleaded guilty to charges that he was defrauding people in romance scams.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 38-year-old Chukwunonso “Douglas” Umegbo – also known as James Abbott, Michael Philips and Richard Armani – pleaded guilty on January 16 to six counts of making a false statement to a bank, two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

Umegbo was arrested in London in April 2022 and extradited to the United States in February 2023 and has been in federal custody ever since. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2021.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Umegbo opened bank accounts in 2018 and 2019 in the greater Boston area using fake identities for the purpose of receiving fraudulently obtained funds from a number of victims of romance scams.

Romance scams are when “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 U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Umegbo would have the money he scammed from people deposited to those accounts, and then would withdraw the money in cash, use it to purchase cashier’s checks, or spend on personal purchases. He fraudulently collected more than $560,000 from his victims.

Umegbo is scheduled for sentencing on April 4, 2024.

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