Hoosier sentenced in widespread scam with ties to Nigeria

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Update (Jan. 27, 2017)-- Fay Santillanes agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to six years on probation. She received 149 days credit for time served, plus 50 days for good time.

Original story:

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. - Police arrested a woman in connection with an international scam with ties to Nigeria.

Fay Santillanes, 67, is facing charges of money laundering, defrauding a financial institution and theft.

Police were led to Santillanes after a woman from Florida told police she had been scammed. She said she'd met a man online who convinced her to donate to the victims of an oil rig explosion.

"She agreed to send $11,000 to help out the victims," said Detective Rick Wilcox who then began digging into the case. Like so many scam cases, he said "I assumed that it was going to be a dead-end."

But it wasn't.

Police searched Santillanes' home and found piles of evidence. Wilcox believes Santillanes was receiving money from all over the U.S. and Canada. Then, she allegedly took that money to  local banks, turned it into cash, and wired the money to Nigeria.

"She's hopped from bank to bank to bank," said Wilcox.

All together, police allege about $2.5 million moved through her home in the last two years.

"It’s sad. You know there’s a lot of people that are being tricked into believing, like in my victim’s case, she thought she was helping out burnt victims on an oil rig."

Police also seized about $100,000 from the home. Wilcox said that money will be returned to victims if they can figure out who they are.