CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- A Ghanaian man living in Charlotte was caught at the airport with $130,000 he scammed from unsuspecting women. That was in 2017, and now, he’s behind bars and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution.
They thought they were falling head over heels for the love of their lives, but it was actually all just one big scam.
“As soon as someone asks you for some personal information or asks you to send some funds that should be an immediate red flag that love and companionship is not necessarily what that individual was after,” attorney Walter Bowers said.
38-year-old Suleman Alhassan was sentenced to more than four years in prison for scamming more than 20, mostly elderly people, out of more than $1 million.
“One of the things the FBI talks about is the sudden and urgent need. ‘I need this now, I need you to do this now, help me now,’ is a serious indicator that this person is trying to get everything they can out of you before they’re discovered,” Bowers said.
According to court records, Alhassan and his co-conspirators romanced women on dating sites using fake names and profiles and requested victims to send money for travel documents. Victims were conned into giving more for false visa and customs related issues.
“Don’t be ashamed about it, it happens to us all. Just learn from the mistake, recover what you can, and just continue to move forward. And, don’t give up on companionship just because you were swindled.”
The scammers also ran a gold scheme. Alhassan claimed to have a large amount of gold that victims would pay to have shipped to the U.S. with the promise they’d receive a share of profits once the gold arrived.
“Certainly it’s good to request restitution and you could even go after that individual civilly but in reality, the chance of getting any civil compensation is probably going to be slim.”
If you think or know you’ve been a victim of a scam like this Bowers says change and destroy any credit cards you used, change your bank account, and add a fraud alert on your credit report.