In the case of Ghanaian social media influencer, Mona Faiz Montrage, better known as Hajia4Reall, there had been rumours from as far back as November 2022 that she may have been truly involved in some fraudulent deals.
The wealth and influence of the socialite has been something many have had questions about, but the news that confirmed her involvement in such illegalities came after reports emerged on Monday, May 15, 2023.
According to the New York Post, Mona4Reall appeared in the Manhattan Federal Court for her alleged involvement in a series of schemes that targeted vulnerable people who lived alone.
The report also stated that the socialite pleaded not guilty to the charges and is set to be released in the coming days on a $500,000 bond with GPS tracking via an ankle monitor.
Her lawyer, Adam Cortez, confirmed to The Post that Mona received money from several others who were swindled by scammers in her network and that she is charged with wire fraud, money laundering, receipt of stolen money, and conspiracy.
If convicted on the top charge, Montrage could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to court documents, she was involved with a group of con artists from West Africa from at least 2013 through 2019.
The scammers would trick victims into transferring money to them under false pretences, such as to help move gold to the US from overseas, to resolve bogus FBI investigations, and to help fake US Army officers in Afghanistan.
Mona4Reall, in one case, allegedly duped a victim into sending her $89,000 through 82 wire transfers on the pretext of helping her father’s farm in Ghana, the court documents claim.
She tricked the person into believing they were married by sending them a tribal marriage certificate after a series of phone conversations using her real identity, the filing alleges.
But the case of Mona4Reall is only one of the few that have involved Ghanaians in recent years.
Below is a list of some others that GhanaWeb has put together.
Kenneth Anim, July 2022
In July 2022, GhanaWeb reported that a Ghanaian-American by the name of Kenneth Anim, aged 38, had been arrested and charged with matters relating to money laundering.
According to indictments in the Southern District of Texas of the US Attorney General’s office, dated July 12, 2022, it noted that the accused was arrested “following the return of an indictment in a nationwide romance fraud scheme.”
The facts of the case had it that from 2014 to 2019, Anim and his co-conspirator created individual sham businesses, according to the charges. They allegedly operated as money mules in relation to various mail and wire fraud schemes, including internet fraud and romance scams.
The indictment further alleged that Anim also opened and maintained bank accounts to collect proceeds from the schemes and to send the money to himself, his co-conspirators, and overseas.
Kenneth Anim was taken into custody on the day the indictment was issued. He was said to have previously resided in the Houston and Richmond areas.
Investigations leading to his arrest were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI.
Kofi Osei, March 2023
A federal court in Boston sentenced a Ghanaian national to four and a half years in prison after he admitted to his involvement in a romance fraud scheme where more than $8 million was stolen from victims.
In a March 21 statement, the Department of Justice said 30-year-old Kofi Osei and his accomplices mostly targeted elderly people in their romance scams.
Prosecutors said the convicted man used fake passports with pseudonyms to open at least 77 bank accounts between 2016 and 2020. He is said to have used those accounts to receive and quickly withdraw funds from the fraud victims.
“Osei’s co-conspirators created and used fictitious online dating profiles to capitalize on the victims’ desire for companionship, gain their trust, and direct victims to transfer money based on lies,” the Department of Justice said in the statement.
“Osei coordinated with his co-conspirators to receive the fraud proceeds into the bank accounts he opened. He then withdrew the fraud proceeds in cash or with a cashier’s check, sending a portion back to his co-conspirators,” it added.
Authorities said over $8 million in fraud proceeds were received, with $4 million of those funds directly going into accounts that Osei opened and controlled. Prosecutors also said some of the proceeds received from the romance scam were used to purchase cars that were transported to Nigeria and sold, per The Associated Press.
One of their romance scams involved a Florida woman who was informed her supposed online boyfriend had been taken into custody after an explosion on his oil rig, court documents stated.
The victim was then made to send over $200,000 to accounts that were controlled by Osei after she was told the funds were needed to facilitate her partner’s release.
An account that Osei controlled also received $65,000 from another victim after she was informed an accident had occurred at her online boyfriend’s overseas worksite. The victim was told the money was going to be used to help workers who sustained injuries in the accident and also secure her jailed boyfriend’s release. Prosecutors said the scam left the victim “financially and emotionally devastated.”
Authorities arrested Osei in February 2021. His conviction also came after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of making a false statement to a bank, six counts of wire fraud, and two counts of money laundering. He entered the plea in September 2022. Besides the prison sentence, Osei was also ordered to pay $4,122,558 in restitution and forfeiture.
Mother and daughter arrested in April 2022
In April 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested two Ghanaian women in the United States of America for their roles in assisting other Ghanaians defraud others to the tune of over $6 million.
Whitney Adams a.k.a, Girl Boss, and her mother, Flavia Annang, were reported to have connived with the scammers from Ghana to scam particularly elderly or older men in the U.S.
The document also stated that Whitney was an Accra-based lady known specifically on Snapchat for her lavish lifestyle, which included frequenting Dubai for luxurious vacations at 5-star locations.
This was contained in U.S court documents with case number 1:22-mj-01123.
According to the details contained in the document, these fraudulent activities took place between July 2018 and April 2022.
“From a time unknown, but by at least July 2018, and through April 7, 2022, in the District of Arizona, and elsewhere, FLAVIA ANNANG, WHITNEY ADAMS, and their co-conspirators conducted a romance/inheritance scam,” the document said in part.
The report gave a breakdown of how much people were scammed, such as a victim who gave out $283,000 between 2018 to 2020.
Also, another victim is said to have doled out about $5,000,000 between 2015 and 2022 with the hope that he was helping his online lover to collect a gold inheritance worth $10,000,000.
Richard Yaw Dorpe, October 2019
A Ghanaian man, Richard Yaw Dorpe, was reported to have scammed a Chesapeake woman to the tune of more than $300,000, through an online romance scam, according to a federal indictment obtained by WTKR.
He was charged with wire and mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
Investigators said Dorpe pretended to be a widower from Virginia Beach when he met the victim, identified only as E.F. online in 2016. Dorpe went by Jerry Linus or Nils, and sent E.F. pictures making it seem like he was a 57-year-old balding white man. Their initial communication began through the dating site Ourtime.
The two began exchanging messages and phone calls, with Dorpe using an area code making it seem like he was calling from Northern Virginia. In reality, he was calling from Africa.
Over the course of their online romantic relationship, investigators say E.F. sent Dorpe gifts and money, costing her $312,814.
As part of the scheme, investigators said Dorpe told E.F. he needed $200,000 to buy gold for his jewelry business, but didn’t have the money. E.F. then began transferring money under the promise she would be repaid when he returned to Virginia Beach to celebrate Thanksgiving in 2016.
Dorpe then sent E.F. flowers to her home in Chesapeake with a message in all-caps reading, “DO YOU KNOW MUCH I LOVE YOU? I LOVE YOU MORE THAN THE HEAVEN, MORE THAN THE STARS. YOUR BEAUTY IS GREATER THAN ONE THOUSAND ROSES. JERRY.”
By January 2017, E.F. began to realize she had become the victim of fraud. During a video conference call, Dorpe revealed to E.F. He was really a 36-year-old African man going by the tribal name “Yaw,” according to the indictment.
Upon questioning, he then showed her some of the gifts she had sent him as proof of his true identity.