Coon Rapids man sentenced to serve 3 years, pay $1.3M for elder fraud scheme

A Coon Rapids man was sentenced on Thursday to three years (36 months) in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay over $1.3 million in restitution in connection with a romance fraud scheme that targeted elderly individuals.

Solomon Eghosa Wilfred, 43, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in June for a scheme that defrauded primarily elderly victims out of $1,356,995, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The scheme, which ran from June 2020 to March 2021, operated by impersonating a real or plausible, but fictitious person that contacted the victim through social media. The persons being impersonated were senior U.S. diplomats or military officials in some cases, the release stated.

Wilfred and his associates would then fabricate a romantic relationship with the victim and ask for money for some kind of problem or need. Officials say Wilfred sent some victims romantic cards with trinkets, like wedding rings, in order to legitimatize the false persona.

Wilfred’s role in the scheme was to collect and transfer the money, the release added. During the fraud scheme, he opened at least six post office boxes in Minnesota, through which he received hundreds of packages from victims.

In total, Wilfred received over 400 packages containing more than $1.3 million, officials say.