Kelechi Cosmos Emeh, a 32-year-old Nigerian man living in Queensland, Australia, has been charged after allegedly posing as a U.S soldier and forming a romantic relationship with a woman who sent him $370,000.
Kelechi appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday where it was revealed he had also been accused of trying to get the victim to send him a further $170,000 before officers swooped and arrested him at his Durack home on Thursday.
The suspect, who is in the country on a student visa, allegedly received the money over the course of three months from the 34-year-old Brisbane woman, who later contacted police and sparked the investigation.
According to his defence lawyer, the accused has been in Australia for two years. He had rented a Durack home with his partner, a permanent citizen, since entering the country.
The woman became involved with him on a social media platform in October 2018, while he was claiming to be a US soldier in Syria.
Prior to his court appearance, police issued a public warning after uncovering a “disturbing element” within the alleged scam. They claimed Kelechi- acting as an agent for the soldier he was allegedly impersonating – travelled to the victim’s home to collect another $105,000.
“Usually the offender’s interaction with the victim is all online so this further step of travelling to the victim’s home is certainly something we need the public to hear and be warned of today,” detective Terry Lawrence said.
Detective Inspector Vince Byrnes, of the same squad, said these were the first allegations he knew of that a scammer had met with their victim in person to collect money.
“In this case, the disturbing development is a person attending the address … the nature of this scam makes it different,” he said.