A scammer who fooled victims by pretending to be a U.S. soldier deployed to Afghanistan will go to prison and must pay more than $400,000 in restitution, a federal judge ordered this week.

Ganiyu Abayomi Jimoh, a 30-year-old Houston man, received a three-year prison sentence Monday for being found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas said in a statement.

Jimoh used counterfeit passports to open bank accounts under false names and then devised various pretexts to persuade people to send him money, the statement said.

One victim told police that Jimoh pretended to be her online boyfriend, a soldier deployed to Afghanistan named David Miller, a criminal complaint filed in 2019 said.

She said she sent him $65,000 and thought the money was a down payment for real estate she and Miller would purchase upon his return from deployment.

Another victim told police that as part of a purported real estate deal, she sent $26,800 to a bank account associated with one of Jimoh’s fake passports.

Jimoh was videotaped withdrawing money from the accounts linked to the fake passports, investigators said in a 2019 criminal complaint.

Another victim, an 84-year-old man, told the court at a recent hearing that Jimoh stole $13,500 from him by pretending to be his online girlfriend, Monday’s statement said.

Jimoh pleaded guilty to the felony fraud charge on Aug. 1, 2022, but he faces another prosecution stemming from a different scheme.

A federal grand jury in Mississippi indicted him Nov. 2, 2021, on 15 felony counts of charges that he bilked the government out of thousands of dollars in pandemic relief funds, court documents said.

Jimoh is accused of committing the scams in Mississippi shortly after being released on bond for his fraud case in Texas, court documents said.

(U.S. Air Force)

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J.P. Lawrence reports on the U.S. military in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He served in the U.S. Army from 2008 to 2017. He graduated from Columbia Journalism School and Bard College and is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines.

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