A Bruno Mars impersonator has been arrested and charged after a Texas woman claimed he scammed her out of thousands of dollars. According to ABC 13, a man named Chinwendu Azuonwu has been charged with money laundering after being accused of hustling the woman, whose name wasn’t revealed, out of $100,000 while making her believe she was in a romantic relationship with the “24 Karat Gold” singer.
The Daily Mail reported the 63-year-old woman was looking for love on Instagram and was targeted by Azuonwu, a 39-year-old Nigerian man who was stationed in Houston, Texas. He is accused of tricking the woman into thinking he was Mars by sending her photos of the singer on tour. He is also accused of making her believe that the star was going to quit his concert tour and they would live happily ever after. According to court documents obtained by The Daily Mail, from September 12, 2018 to October 17, 2018, Azuonwu asked her for a total of $100,000.
He first asked the woman for $10,000 in September 2018 to cover his tour expenses, and she obliged. Two days after his initial request, the court documents stated that Azuonwu asked her for another $90,000 for an “unexplained reason” and asked that the check be issued to “Chi Autos.” On both occasions, the woman went to her local Wells Fargo Bank and received cashier’s checks and deposited them into the account of a man named Basil Chidiadi Amadi, who Azuonwu told the woman was a “friend of the band.” Amadi is named in the documents as an accomplice to Azuonwu’s scam. Police said that Amadi and Azuonwu opened up two separate bank accounts where she was told to deposit the money, Click2Houston reported.
The woman went to North Richland Hills Texas Police Department and reported that she had been “the victim of a internet romance scam” on October 16, 2019, court documents read. Azuonwu is now in police custody and his bail has been set at $30,000 during an appearance in Harris County Probable Cause Court, ABC 13 noted. If he and Amadi, who was also charged with money laundering, are convicted, they both face two to 10 years in state prison.
Azuonwu does have a LinkedIn account but his page is quite bare. It lists that he worked as a “Forklift drive” at Cardinal Health in Houston, Texas.
Azuonwu & Amadi Worked For Scammers Overseas, Police Say
Keith Houston, a Harris County Assistant District Attorney with the Cyber Crimes Division, told Click2Houston that the men were working for scammers overseas.
“They will spend months talking to people online,” he said. “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 then explained how the hierarchy of the scammers works.
“What these people do is they will recruit people to open up bank accounts,” he added. “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.”
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