Today in Federal Court, a 63-month prison sentence was handed down to one of the men involved in a romance scam that bilked dozens of senior citizens out of nearly $1 million.
The length of the sentence was the maximum of the 51 to 63 month range Judge Sarah Pitlyk could impose. Judge Pitlyk said that the stiff punishment was due in part to both the “very serious harm to many people” that the defendant, 43-year-old Bonmene Sibe, was responsible for as well as his disruptive and contemptuous conduct during court.
An RFT cover story earlier this year, documented the scam Sibe and another man, Ovuoke Frank Ofikoro, orchestrated. Individuals in Nigeria, and possibly other countries, too, would contact elderly women in the United States claiming to be high-ranking generals and diplomats stationed overseas.
The scheme varied depending on who was being duped. But the basic idea was that these fraudsters wooed elderly victims until they felt they were in love with the “general” or the “diplomat.” At this point, the fraudsters requested that these women, who they often referred to as “wife” or “wifey,” send them money.
Sibe’s role in the conspiracy was to open two P.O. boxes in St. Louis, collect the money that was sent to them and forward it to Ofikoro.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry, who is the prosecutor in this case, previously told the RFT that having an individual in the United States as part of the…