Woman pleads guilty to role in online romance scam in R.I., elsewhere

PROVIDENCE – A Texas woman admitted to her role in an online romance scam in which elderly women, including Rhode Island residents, were cheated out of a total of $3.2 million, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Zachary A. Cunha announced Wednesday.

Sade Mills, 28, of Houston, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in her role in the scheme that involved four other co-conspirators.

Mills admitted that from April to June 2018 she deposited a total of $34,710 in payments she knew had been fraudulently obtained from women through internet and app-based romance scams, the U.S. Attorney said. She admitted taking the payments, mostly in the form of money orders, cash or wire transfers, and depositing them in her bank account. She would later either withdraw or transfer the proceeds to other banks, as directed by a co-conspirator, Dominique Golden, 31, of Houston, according to court documents.

Golden was convicted on Sept. 1 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. She was sentenced on Jan. 25 to 78 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of federal supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1.2 million.

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Two other co-conspirators, Wisdom Oghenekaro Onyobeno, 42, and Syretta Scherer, 41 both from Atlanta, are awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in Providence. Their trial is scheduled to begin on May 1. Onyobeno has been in custody since his arrest on November 2019.

Mills is scheduled to be sentenced on May 23.