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03.07.2021 Diaspora (USA)

Ghanaian woman jailed 70 months in US over multimillion-dollar business, romance scams

Ghanaian woman jailed 70 months in US over multimillion-dollar business, romance scams
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A 34-year-old Ghanaian woman extradited from Ghana to the US, Deborah Mensah, has been sentenced to 70 months over a multimillion-dollar money laundering conspiracy.

Information available from the New York Southern District of United States Attorney Office indicates that Deborah was between 2014 and 2018 involved in a “conspiracy to launder millions of dollars of fraud proceeds from business email compromises and romance scams that targeted the elderly.”

She was however handed over to US authorities in August 2020.

The statement from the United States’ Attorney Office noted that Deborah Mensah has pleaded guilty to the fraud charges, hence her sentencing by the U.S District Judge, Denise. L Cote on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

“Deborah Mensah was a member of an international criminal enterprise that stole millions of dollars from businesses and vulnerable individuals across the United States, and laundered that money through a network of bank accounts in the Bronx. Having previously been extradited from Ghana, Deborah Mensah has now been sentenced to a term in a U.S. prison for her crime”, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss stated.

Her business email compromise fraud scheme was to trick and deceive businesses into wiring funds into accounts controlled by her ‘Criminal Enterprise’.

The ‘Enterprise’ conducted the romance scams by using electronic messages sent via email, text messaging, or online dating websites that deluded the victims, many of whom were vulnerable older men and women who lived alone, into believing the victim was in a romantic relationship with a fake identity assumed by members of the ‘Enterprise’.

She together with her co-conspirators received or otherwise directed the receipt of over $10 million in fraud proceeds from victims of the Enterprise into bank accounts that she and other members of the Enterprise controlled in the Bronx, New York.

The convict opened and maintained multiple business bank accounts in the name of an auto sales company to receive funds stolen from victims and launder them to co-conspirators based primarily in Ghana.

She also recruited and directed one co-conspirator to receive and launder fraud proceeds, and instructed that co-conspirator on how to set up a business bank account for this purpose to avoid detection.

That’s not all, Deborah Mensah has also been sentenced to three years over supervised release.

In addition, she was ordered to forfeit $202,964 and pay restitution of $1,505,519 to her victims.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office's Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.

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