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Orlando Criminal Lawyer

DOJ: Man In Central Florida Sentenced For Role In Nigerian Romance Scam


On April 23rd, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that Niselio Barros Garcia Jr.—a 50-year-old man from Central Florida—has been sentenced to prison for his role in a so-called “Nigerian romance scam.” Mr. Garcia Jr. is set to serve 48 months in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to commit money laundering. He will also forfeit over $450,000. Here, our Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer provides an in-depth overview of the allegations raised in this case and explains the charges and the sentence.

The Allegations: Defendant Perpetrated “Nigerian Romance” Scam 

Broadly described, a “Nigerian Romance” scam is a colloquial term used to describe a fraud scheme through which fraudsters create fake profiles on dating websites and/or social media platforms to establish romantic relationships with unsuspecting victims. These scammers slowly gain the victim’s trust with affectionate communication. Eventually, they concoct a false emergency or another type of story in order to solicit money from the victim. The funds are generally sent overseas and are extremely challenging to recovery. 

The defendant in this case, Niselio Barros Garcia Jr., is not himself Nigerian. He is a resident of Central Florida. However, he allegedly worked with a network of co-conspirators who were located in Nigeria and carried out a web of romance scams. Prosecutors contend that Mr. Garcia Jr. was effectively the ringleader of the fraud scheme. Indeed, the DOJ noted that he “supplied bank accounts to his co-conspirators for the purpose of receiving proceeds from the scams.

Note: The DOJ estimated the total losses linked to this white collar fraud scheme at approximately $2.3 million. 

Understanding the Charge: Federal Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering 

Niselio Barros Garcia Jr. was charged with and convicted of the federal crime of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Broadly speaking, conspiracy to commit money laundering is a criminal charge that involves an agreement between two or more parties to engage in transactions designed to conceal the origins of illegally obtained money.

It is important to emphasize that the charge does not require prosecutors to prove the completion of the money laundering itself. Instead, the charge focuses on the intent and planning involved in attempting to make the funds appear legitimate. A person charged under this statute is often accused of creating complex financial transactions to mask the illicit nature of the funds.

Guilty Plea: Four Years in Prison and More than $450,000 in Financial Sanctions 

In January of 2024, Mr. Garcia Jr. entered a guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a federal court in Orlando. He has now been sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison. Beyond that, he will pay $464,923.91 in forfeited ill-gotten gains to affected victims.

Contact Our Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Today

At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando white collar criminal defense attorney is committed to helping clients find the best solution. If you or your family member is facing any type of fraud-related charges, please do not hesitate to contact our criminal defense team today. Initial consultations are always confidential. We defend white collar criminal cases throughout all of Central Florida.



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