BOSTON (WWLP) – A former New Bedford man was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom for charges of wire fraud and money laundering in connection to an alleged romance scheme.

The 37-year-old man identified as Chukwunonso “Douglas” Umegbo, a/k/a James Abbott, a/k/a Michael Philips, a/k/a Richard Armani, formerly of New Bedford, was arrested in London on April 4, 2022 and extradited to the United States on February 10, 2023. He has been indicted for six counts of making a false statement to a bank, two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

According to charging documents, Umegbo allegedly opened a bank account in the Boston area using fake identity documents and retrieved funds fraudulently from several victims in a romance scheme between 2018 and 2019. He would then allegedly withdraw the money in cash and purchase cashier’s checks or use on personal purchases. The account received more than $560,000.

Better Business Bureau tips on how to protect yourself from romance schemes:

• Be wary of requests to switch to a different mode of communication. After making initial contact on the dating app, just in case the dating app flags them for having a fake profile, they may quickly try to get the victim to switch to a different mode of communication such as email or texting. Mary was communicating with the scammer via WhatsApp and Instagram shortly after meeting on Hinge.

• Never send money or sensitive personal information to someone you’ve never met in person. Cut off contact if someone starts asking you for financial or personally identifiable information (PII), like your credit card number or government ID number.

• Research your date first. Many scammers steal photos from the internet to use in their dating profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website, like Google Images, to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else. You can also search online for a profile name, email, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t.

• Ask specific questions about details given in a profile. A scammer may stumble over remembering details or making a story fit.

• Don’t want to meet. Be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone a meeting because they say they are traveling or live overseas or are in the military.

• Suspect language. If the person you are communicating with claims to be from your hometown but has poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.

• Hard luck stories. Before moving on to asking you for money, the scammer may hint at financial troubles like heat being cut off or a stolen car, or a sick relative, or they may share a sad story from their past (death of parents or spouse, etc.).