AceShowbiz - As Valentine's Day is fast approaching, it's natural for people to try to find love online. However, a 63-year-old woman from Texas was ironically catfished and scammed by someone who pretended to be singer Bruno Mars.
According to Harris County cyber-crimes prosecutors, a man from overseas befriended her on Instagram. "West Africa or China. I've seen them come back to Iran, even North Korea on occasion," Keith Houston, a Harris County Assistant District Attorney with the Cyber Crimes Division, detailed.
The con artist also managed to convince her that he was the "Uptown Funk" hitmaker, telling her that he needed help with his touring expenses. Court documents revealed that the man told the woman that he was quitting his current tour to be with her. "They will spend months talking to people online. Sometimes they will even borrow a little bit of money and return it to build up trust. They’re not stupid people, these scammers. They are very much sophisticated con artists," Houston continued.
The cops have found two men named Basil Amadi and Chinwendu Azuonwu who are responsible for the two different bank accounts where the woman was instructed to send the money. It is said that the woman was asked to wire $10,000 to Amadi and $90,000 to Azuonwu.
Explaining the scheme, Houston said, "What these people do is they will recruit people to open up bank accounts. So what you have is, you have the people at the bottom opening the bank accounts, people in the middle that are doing the recruiting and communicating with the hackers and then the hackers."
As they were interviewed separately, Amadi claimed that he knew Azuonwu. However, Azuonwu said that he didn't know Amadi as well as why he had the $90,000 deposit, which was later withdrawn, on his account.
Both Amadi and Azuonwu, who reside in Texas, are charged with money laundering and will be sentenced to 2 to 10 years in prison if convicted. According to Harris Counry Probable Cause Court, Azuonwu's bail was set at $30,000.