The use of the internet to perpetrate various kinds of fraud schemes is hardly a novelty. Some fraud schemes now originate in and are operated from foreign countries. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York just announced the arrests of six persons, including two from Virginia, who have or will be charged with a broad money laundering and fraud scheme that has its roots in the Republic of Ghana.
The allegations of fraud
The defendants are alleged to have engaged in fraud and money-laundering schemes that principally targeted the elderly. The suspects are alleged to have contacted elderly persons on romance internet sites and told them to wire money in pursuit of non-existent romances. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District said that the defendants are alleged to have engaged in e-mail spoofing, romance scams targeting elderly persons, business e-mail scams and fraudulent pursuit of covid-19 relief loans.
The fraudulent activity is alleged to have begun in 2013 and lasted until sometime in 2020. The defendants are members of a criminal enterprise based in Ghana, and their victims were individuals and businesses located across the United States, including southern New York state and Eastern Virginia. The suspects are alleged to have assumed false identities to lure elderly persons into sending money to various false e-mail addresses. The money sent by victims is alleged to have been deposited in Virginia, New York, and New Jersey. The suspects supposedly laundered the proceeds from the fraud by purchasing automobiles, food products and other goods from U.S.-based suppliers and shipping the products to Ghana and elsewhere. According to the indictments, the scheme was intended to obscure the origin and destination of the funds paid by victims.
The defendants in this case are facing serious criminal charges, and if convicted, they will face significant prison time and substantial fines. Anyone facing similar charges may wish to consult an experienced criminal attorney for an evaluation of the evidence, assistance in formulating legal defenses and, if appropriate, negotiate of an acceptable plea agreement.