Three Ohio men busted. They used fake online profiles to con unsuspecting suitors out of money. The U.S. Department of Justice said the men used their scams to launder money for over five years.
Here’s how they pulled it off:
Law enforcement officials said the men created multiple profiles on several dating sites. The crooks then got in touch with men and women all over the United States and the world. They wormed their way into the affections of their targets. Then they asked for money.
The crooks varied their stories depending on the target. Sometimes they pretended to need money for a medical or personal emergency. Other times, they claimed the money was for a too-good-to-be-true investment.
The scammers provided account information and direction as to how their victims could send the money. Money was transferred to the scammers, their family members, and companies owned by the scammers.
Out Of The Country
The indictment said the crooks went to a great deal of trouble to conceal the movement of the money. They transferred it to other accounts, purchased cashier’s checks or money orders, and wired the cash to Ghana, China, and other destinations. A big part of the conspiracy involved moving proceeds of the scam to Ghana.
“The defendants allegedly laundered proceeds earned from an online romance scam through a series of financial transactions intended to conceal the fraud,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.
Three men were charged with this racket:
- Robert Asante, 35, of Canal Winchester
- Kwame Yeboah, 36, of Columbus
- Eric Ahiekpor, 49, of Lewis Center
Conspiracy to launder money is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, as well as forfeiture of any proceeds involved in the conspiracy.
U.S. Marshals arrested Ahiekpor Tuesday. A U.S. Magistrate Judge arraigned Ahiekpor shortly after. Asante and Yeboah have court appearances scheduled for Monday, June 29.
Experts warn that it is never a good idea to send money to someone you meet online. Be careful of any acquaintance that requests money for medical emergencies or comes up with a great investment you just can’t miss out on.
If you genuinely believe someone needs help, direct them to agencies in their area, don’t send money.