Texas man sentenced to 37 months for scamming $1.5M from R.I. woman and others

PROVIDENCE – A Texas man who previously pleaded guilty to his role in an online romance scam was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Zachary A. Cunha announced Tuesday.  

Fola Alabi, also known as Folayemi Alabi, 51, of Richmond, Texas, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering on Jan. 17 in federal court for his role in a scam in which elderly women – including a Rhode Island woman – were cheated out of more than $1.5 million by someone pretending to be an Army general. 

The scheme involved an alleged accomplice pretending to be a general stationed overseas who befriended women on social media, gradually gaining their trust by feigning romantic or personal interest, prosecutors said. 

The women were from at least 11 states, including Rhode Island, and many were in their 70s and 80s and either widowed or divorced. 

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A 78-year-old victim in Rhode Island told authorities that she was asked to send $60,000 to “General Miller” to help ship his belongings back to the U.S., according to court documents. She was asked to send the check payable to Full Circle Import Exports, a company created by Alabi, and she mailed the check to Alabi’s residence in Texas, prosecutors said. 

The woman sent a check for $60,000 and was going to send an additional $240,000, but her bank determined that she might be a victim of fraud, put a hold on her account and contacted the Westerly police, authorities said. 

In addition to his prison time, Alabi must pay the identified victims of the romance scams $1.4 million in restitution; forfeit funds contained in a bank account that he controlled containing $31,773 and forfeit his Texas residence that was valued at the time of his arrest at $560,000.