FBI: We’ve seen an explosion of online romance scams

FBI warns about romance scammer
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 1:03 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2023 at 1:04 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, the FBI’s Atlanta division is actively looking for a man with Atlanta ties who skipped bond after pleading guilty to romance scams and other scams.

Ugo “Caesar” Anele is believed to be in Nigeria.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an explosion of online romance scams,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Chris MacRae.

He said victims are mostly women who are widowed, disabled, or over the age of 40. Scammers will often meet the women through an online dating service using a fake profile and then trick the women into sending or laundering money.

“For 2021, the reported loss amounts were just under $1 billion, and that’s only what’s been reported,” said MacRae.

He added that scammers will always have an excuse as to why they can’t meet the victim in person.

“Never send money to anyone that you’ve never met in person.”

Anele, according to the FBI, was supposed to serve three years in prison and pay his victims a million dollars in restitution.

“The same week that he was supposed to report to prison, he fled to Nigeria using someone else’s name,” said FBI Special Agent Steve Evans.

He said Anele once worked in Atlanta and still has family here.

“We know that he’s in Nigeria – in Lagos, Nigeria – and we’re looking for information about his exact whereabouts,” said Evans.

Anyone with information on his exact whereabouts is asked to contact the nearest FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. You can report a scammer here. You can also submit an anonymous tip here.