Man behind fake Pharrell and online dating scam gets prison time
By AMBER SPENCER-KNOWLES
A Ghanaian man who deceived a South Korean steel company out of $1 million by falsely claiming he could book a Pharrell concert, along with a series of dating scams, has been fined and sentenced to two years in prison.
Sigismund Segbefia, 29, was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was originally arrested for misleading women through an online dating scam.
Segbefia, a native of Ghana, was living in Silver Springs, Maryland when the scams occurred. In the dating scam, he managed to get eight women to send him large sums of money using the names, addresses and pictures of the people he was using for his online dating profiles. Between August 2014 and January 2015, one woman wired him over $505,000.
The victim met Segebfia on a dating site and was told that he needed the money because the United Nations took control of his bank accounts during an assignment. He posed as a 51-year-old army sergeant in Afghanistan and vowed to repay her afterward, his indictment read.
Another woman wired Segbefia $222,000 when he used the name and address of a Pittsburgh-area postal worker. In that scam, he posed as a 55-year-old Australian who owned a medical supply business in Pennsylvania to make the scam appear more credible. He persuaded the victim to send money by claiming he was having both legal and financial issues, which included trying to ship devices from his company to England.
Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond said that Segbefia “preyed on lonely women and was able to obtain tremendous amounts of money from them.” Segbefia also had six additional online dating victims who lost a combined total of $85,000 before all catching onto his schemes.
In addition to these frauds, Segbefia also admitted to involvement in the swindling of the South Korean company Dosko Co. of $375,000. He pretended to be a show promoter for singer, rapper and producer Pharrell Williams, responsible for the international hit song, “Happy” among several others chart-topping records. The company had plans to expand into entertainment and diversifying its revenue.
So far, no other arrests have been made for the Dosko Co. scam, however it is believed that there are others involved who live overseas, according to authorities. The scam currently remains under investigation at this time.
Segbefia was placed under arrest in New York and was extradited to federal authorities in Pittsburgh to face all charges. He pleaded guilty in December and was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution. Segbefia has also agreed to be deported back to his native country of Ghana after serving his prison term.
Segbefia told the judge that he prays that God forgives him, and that he “should have known better.” His public defender Akin Adepoju touted Segbefia’s remarks as “genuine.”