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Thread: Nigerian scammers con Clark County School district out of $1.45 million, and then trick three women in other states into receiving the stolen funds and shipping it out of the country

  1. #1
    A complex and long-planned scheme was hatched to steal $1.45 million from the Clark County School District, and then utilize already-established out-of-state romance scam victims to move the money out of the United States.

    Three US women have been arrested for taking part in the scheme -- all apparently tricked by Nigerian romance scammers into thinking they were doing something noble and receiving/transferring legitimately obtained funds, which were actually stolen.

    In August 2022, a Nigerian scammer registered two domains -- one similar to that of Clark County School District (CCSD), and one similar to a construction company which CCSD had actually recently hired. Somehow the scammers were aware of the hiring of this construction company by CCSD, perhaps from articles online or public records.

    The scammers impersonated representatives of the construction company using e-mail at that similar domain, and tricked a CCSD employee into sending out $1.45 million of school district funds, in order to "pay" the construction company. However, in order to make sure they didn't pay the real construction company -- who would have returned the funds once they discovered a payment which wasn't due -- the scammers manipulated the employee using the fake CCSD domain emails, supposedly authorizing a change in bank account where the money would be received.

    However, the scammers still had a problem. There was no way that this school district would be dumb enough to wire $1.45 million of district funds to Nigeria, nor could they be talked into converting such a large amount of money into bitcoin without raising major suspicion. Even the most dim of school district employees would be unlikely to fall for such instructions.

    That's where the three US women came in.

    Eight months earlier, in November 2021, these same Nigerian scammers romanced Leslie Villarosa, of Chicago, via Facebook. The scammer claimed to be an American working on an oil rig -- a common trick by foreign romance scammers who use the rig to explain why they can't talk on the phone (which would otherwise give away their accent). After earning her trust over those 8 months, they tricked Villarosa into believing she was organizing a pilgrimage to Israel for her church.

    First, she calculated that she would need $185k for the pilgrimage, so she collected $185k in funds from people from her own church, in order to fund that pilgrimage. At first she was told that she would be handling all of the money, and booking flights and hotels for all of the church members. However, she was then convinced to convert $80k of those funds to bitcoin, and send it directly to the scammers. It's not clear what happened to the other $105k, but it was sent to "other individuals", presumably also the scammers.

    Very shortly after that, she received the $1.45 million from CCSD, which the district believed was going to the construction company. She spent $80k of it buying "supplies for the pilgrimage", and then sent the rest of the money to three other individuals in the US.

    One of them was Jennifer Walsh, of Indiana.

    Walsh was also romanced by these same Nigerian scammers via Facebook, and thought she was receiving the money for some kind of noble purpose. She received $95,000 from Villarosa in October 2022, and was instructed by the scammers to send them to a bitcoin ATM at a truck stop near where she lived, and then to convert the funds to bitcoin and send to the scammers' address. She was told to lie about her relationship with Villarosa, who she did not know in reality, but told bank officials was a relative.

    Selma Redmond, of Phoenix, also received funds from Villarosa, and also had been romanced by the scammers. She was under similar instruction as Walsh, and received $450k from Villarosa in November 2022, and then $120k shortly thereafter. Similarly, the $570k was converted to bitcoin and then shipped out to the scammers. She denied it when federal agents interviewed her, but there is a clear paper trail of this occurring.

    It is unclear how the scammers got the remaining $780k, but it is believed there was a fourth person involved, who was tricked in a similar fashion.

    Walsh and Redmond have been arrested, and Villarosa currently has an active warrant for her arrest.

    According to public records I found, Selma Redmond is 68, Leslie Villarosa is 52, and Jennifer Walsh is 56.

    The CCSD employee who stupidly sent the $1.45 million has not been (and likely will not be) arrested.

    The money is unrecoverable, for obvious reasons.
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  2. #2
    You might wonder why these three women were arrested, as they were tricked by the romance scammers and not knowingly stealing school district money.

    This is because all three women allegedly agreed to lie to bank officials when converting the funds to bitcoin and/or receiving the funds in their bank. Villarosa also forwarded the funds received from the school district to the other women, without stopping to consider why a school district would be sending her almost $1.5 million.

    In addition, Villarosa took $185k from her own church members, and instead of arranging the trip to Israel herself as promised, allegedly sent that money to the scammers.

    I don't imagine the women will get much (or any) time in prison, as they appear to just be morons who were tricked by romance scammers into being unwitting accomplices.

    I think Villarosa is most legally exposed here, due to both the misusing of the church money she collected AND being the one to forward out all of the money from CCSD without stopping to consider whether or not it was stolen.
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  3. #3
    I also was wondering why the Ladies were arrested when they were scammed victims who got manipulated into sending money for a scam without their knowledge. I don't get why the person who ACTUALLY sent the money didn't get into trouble but the ladies mentioned got arrested. The person who ACTUALLY sent the money should have been arrested too.

    Take comfort in the fact that no one is actually backing up his wishes to have you permanantly banned.

    Smart is knowing a Tomato is a fruit.

    Wise is knowing a Tomato doesn't belong in a fruit salad.

    I am glad to get my full posting rights back! Thank you Dan!

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