10 or 20 years ago, if someone had asked you what a catfish was, you’d probably refer to the bottom-dwelling fish that is cooked into a deep-fried delicacy across the Southeastern United States. Today, most people are familiar enough with the World Wide Web that they know that a “catfish,” at least in slang terms, is someone who uses a fake identity online to interact with others, usually trying – and sometimes succeeding – to drag other, real people who aren’t acting as catfish into relationships.
In some cases, if catfish are good enough, they are able to solicit money and other assets from victims. It also helps if the catfish’s targets are naive, gullible, and not keen on questioning things they aren’t sure are legitimate.
Yesterday, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, prosecutors with the United States Department of Justice announced in a press release that law enforcement officers had captured a Cumberland County, New Jersey, man who had long adopted a fake personality to portray on the World Wide Web in order to scam money from people who thought Rubbin Sarpong was somebody totally different.
The Department of Justice, via an official press release, had shared yesterday that Rubbin Sarpong, a 35-year-old man, and managed to scam upward of two million United States Dollars from unsuspecting victims, the entire time claiming that he was a U.S. military member who was stationed overseas. In actuality, Sarpong was living in New Jersey the entire time he was scamming unsuspecting people of money.
Sarpong asked for money from victims under the guise that he would purchase bars of pure gold from wherever he was stationed at in the Middle East, using a variety of locations within the region, that he would then bring back once his deployment was over.
From roughly Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2019, Sarpong, as well as a handful of his cohorts, some of which are based outside of the United States, had ripped off roughly three dozen women for money in exchange for bringing back nonexistent gold bars.
Sarpong and company managed to get money from the unsuspecting women who fell victim to the catfishing scam sent money to the group through bank wire transfer, MoneyGram payments, Western Union money transfer, mailing personal or cashier’s checks, and even sending cold, hard cash through the mail.
If convicted of the federal crime of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, he could go to federal prison to 20 years.