Special deputy US marshal in Md. charged in romance scam

An Upper Marlboro, Maryland, man has been charged with money laundering in connection with romance scams over a period of nearly six years.

Isidore Iwuagwu, 35, is facing a federal charge of conspiring to commit money laundering. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday in federal district court in Greenbelt.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Iwuagwu is a special deputy United States marshal and Department of Justice contractor “providing security for critical Department of Justice facilities.”

The prosecutors said Iwuagwu took part in romance scams between October 2015 and July 2021, in which people started online romances with victims on social media platforms and dating sites, then asked them for money with for what they claimed were personal hardships or “shipping for various imports,” prosecutors said.

In all, prosecutors said, victims linked to Iwuagwu reported losing $1.9 million, including one woman who believed she was sending money to help a U.S. Army major general transition to civilian life. She sent $300,000 to Iwuagwu, who the false general said was his lawyer.

Another woman allegedly sent $51,880 to Iwuagwu for the expenses of someone falsely claiming to be a doctor leaving the U.S. on a ship to care for people in other countries.

Iwuagwu allegedly sent more than $1.5 million from accounts he controlled to foreign banks.

If he’s convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

“If you find yourself in an online relationship and you’re asked for a bunch of money, it’s probably fraud, not love,” Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron said in the statement. “We’re prosecuting elder fraud, including romance scams, to the fullest extent of the law.”

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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