Friday, April 12, 2024

Ghanaian influencer pleads guilty in $2m romance scam case

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzihttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Ghanaian social media influencer, Mona Faiz Montrage has pleaded guilty in a $2 million romance scam case.

Montrage also known as Hajia4Reall was extradited last year from the United Kingdom to the US to face criminal charges.

She was facing charges for allegedly swindling over $2 million from older, single American men and women, federal prosecutors said.

The United States Attorney’s Office said in a statement on its website on Wednesday that the socialite pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to receive stolen money.

“MONTRAGE pled guilty today to conspiracy to receive stolen money before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave,” the statement said.

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U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said “Mona Faiz Montrage knowingly received money stolen from older Americans through romance scams and was arrested abroad and now faces serious consequences for her actions.

Nature of scamming

Romance scams such as Montrage’s harmed her vulnerable, elderly victims not only in the cruel betrayal of trust in the realization that their online romantic connection was fiction, but by also callously stealing their money.  This Office and our law enforcement partners are relentless in bringing fraudsters who target Americans to justice, no matter where they are.”

The influencer’s guilty plea to one count of conspiring to receive stolen money carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“MONTRAGE also agreed to pay forfeiture in the amount of $2,164,758.41 and make restitution in the same amount.  MONTRAGE is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty,” the statement added.

According to Indictment and statements made in public filings and public court proceedings, from at least in or about 2013 through in or about 2019, MONTRAGE was a member of a criminal enterprise (the “Enterprise”) based in West Africa that committed a series of frauds against individuals and businesses in the U.S., including romance scams.

Many of the Enterprise’s romance scam victims were vulnerable, older men and women who lived alone, according to the statement.

It said the Enterprise frequently conducted the romance scams by sending the victims emails, text messages, and social media messages that deceived the victims into believing that they were in romantic relationships with a person who was, in fact, a fake identity assumed by members of the Enterprise.

Once members of the Enterprise had successfully convinced victims that they were in a romantic relationship and had gained their trust, they convinced the victims, under false pretenses, to transfer money to bank accounts the victims believed were controlled by their romantic interests, when, in fact, the bank accounts were controlled by members of the Enterprise, the documents stated.

“MONTRAGE received money from several victims of romance frauds who members of the Enterprise tricked into sending money.  Among the false pretenses used to induce victims to send money to MONTRAGE were payments to transport gold to the U.S. from overseas payments to resolve a fake FBI investigation, and payments to assist a fake U.S. Army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan,” the attorney’s statement detailed.

In total, MONTRAGE controlled bank accounts that received over $2 million in fraudulent funds from the Enterprise.

 

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Source: Africafeeds.com

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